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Robert Agranoff

This chapter examines the limitations of networks as a form of collaborative management by looking deeper into issues related to their internal operational processes. First, it highlights the complexities involved when agencies and organizations work collaboratively, including challenges for governing bodies, statutory constraints, turf battles and the management of network processes. Second, it highlights the overlooked issue of mission incompatibility and the challenges this creates in working collaboratively. Third, there is the issue of “Big P” politics; or the role of elective leaders in supporting or constraining collaborative efforts. Fourth, there are the “small p” politics of process, power and operational barriers in the collaboration process. Fifth, there are the array of processing barriers or transaction costs. Sixth, the chapter notes the issue of process fatigue created by the complexity of multiple collaboration efforts. Finally, there are the perils of operational localism, or the gap between policy and delivery. The author suggests that these limitations can be more effectively addressed by applying continuous improvement functions that suggest more systematic approaches to improving collaborative practice.

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Edward P. Weber

In this chapter Edward Weber examines the issue of political support for collaborative governance and the logic of support that spans both liberal and conservative politicians in the western United States. For liberal politicians, collaborative governance is viewed as a way to achieve environmental goals such as species recovery. From their perspective, the national environmental superstructure of environmental laws provides enough security that their preferred environmental protection outcomes will be reached that they are willing to loosen the reins of discretion in order to produce better outcomes. For conservative politicians, the place-based collaboration approach matches the conservative ideas of small government and governance close to home. This support continues to be challenged by lawsuits from the left and right, but broad-based public interest outcomes offer policy solutions that are often hard for elected officials to oppose. In response to these trends, Weber notes that politicians have been granting more discretion to agencies, which have been also lending more support to collaboration due to declining budgets and more emphasis on collaboration.

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Jill M. Purdy

Power in collaborative processes includes both episodic aspects and structural aspects. While strategies for balancing episodic power have been developed, structural power problems may limit the meaningful participation of diverse groups in environmental decision making and planning. Challenges include building shared logics during collaboration and legitimizing collaborative approaches in society.

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Richard D. Margerum

Collaborative approaches to governance are becoming increasingly important for addressing complex planning and public policy issues. Throughout the world, these approaches have been widely used to address complex, multi-jurisdictional and cross-boundary problems. While much literature has focused on case studies of success and best practices for effective collaboration, there has been less interrogation of the challenges to effective collaboration. In particular, there has been limited discussion of contextual, societal, political, institutional and other factors that make successful collaboration difficult, prone to missteps or likely to fail. This chapter reviews a range of literature to identify several major themes related to the challenges of collaboration: problem and its context, policy and political setting, collaborative ability and capacity, and participant factors. Many of these themes are also relevant to other kinds of governance settings, but they present particularly difficult challenges for collaboration.

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Jeroen F. Warner, Jan M. Fliervoet and Antoine J. M. Smits

While multi-functional river rehabilitation has taken the limelight in today's water management, its follow-up phase, maintenance, has done so to a far lesser extent. A key challenge for today´s environmental management is the number and diversity of actors and sectors involved, each with their own perceptions, interests and resources. This chapter seeks to apply the gains made in the Joint Planning Approach (JPA), developed earlier at Radboud University, the Netherlands, to the maintenance stage of river planning. The application of that approach in the densely populated Netherlands is contrasted with an example of top-down, mono-functional maintenance in a floodplain area in the southwest. It is found that the approach brings considerable opportunities to integrate a fragmented field but that considerable challenges remain related to fragmented policies, building collaborative entities, and organizational constraints.

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Jurian Edelenbos and Ingmar van Meerkerk

This chapter introduces the phrase “vitality mechanisms” which support interactive and collaborative governance and discusses the challenges associated with applying them in practice. Vitality mechanisms refer to the procedural and relational capacity among actors in a network, which the authors suggest is strongly related to governance capacity and relational capacity. Vitality is supported by informal structures or settings that promote interaction among actors, boundary spanning activities that build and activate relationships among actors, constructive dialogue and deliberation among actors, trust to enhance the performance of networks, and institutionalization of relationships that allow ongoing interaction. However, the conditions necessary for supporting vitality also confront challenges related to the interplay between the conditions, the impacts of the evolution of networks over time, and the contextual effects on these conditions.

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Julia M. Wondolleck and Susan D. Lurie

Voluntary participation is a well-established tenet of collaborative public management. Engagement by choice ensures commitment and good faith participation. However, mandating participation in a collaborative process has become necessary in situations involving wicked problems where there is an imperative for cross-jurisdictional and organizational interaction yet no incentive or opportunity for collaboration exists. The CALFED collaborative illustrates multiple ways in which qualities associated with voluntary engagement were instilled in a process in which participation was mandated. A sense of issue urgency, acknowledgement of interdependence between parties, recognition of collaboration as the preferred approach to decision-making, and procedural fairness were fostered through both enabling and constraining strategies exercised by the process conveners. Defection from the process was strategically precluded. Significant process challenges that appear unique to situations in which participation is mandated include sustaining the mandate and managing enduring home agency resistance.

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Mat Gilfedder, Cathy J. Robinson and Mike Grundy

This chapter critically assesses how scientific evidence is used to guide and evaluate collaboration. Drawing on expertise in collaborative planning, hydrology and soil systems science, the authors trace the challenges in Australia of translating scientific data into informed and sustained on-ground, voluntary responses. The chapter highlights the challenges of introducing complex and uncertain scientific information into real-world collaborative decisions and on-ground actions. The chapter also highlights the importance of considering and debating science at the collaborative planning table, even if the information challenges fluctuating support for long-term, on-ground efforts to address broad and undesirable environmental change.