Table of Contents

The Challenges of Collaboration in Environmental Governance

The Challenges of Collaboration in Environmental Governance

Barriers and Responses

New Horizons in Environmental Politics series

Edited by Richard D. Margerum and Cathy J. Robinson

Collaborative approaches to governance are being used to address some of the most difficult environmental issues across the world, but there is limited focus on the challenges of practice. Leading scholars from the United States, Europe and Australia explore the theory and practice in a range of contexts, highlighting the lessons from practice, the potential limitations of collaboration and the potential strategies for addressing these challenges.

Chapter 3: Back to the future? Collaborative environmental governance theory and practice

Tomas M. Koontz

Subjects: environment, energy policy and regulation, environmental governance and regulation, environmental politics and policy, politics and public policy, environmental governance and regulation


This chapter draws on the American context to review the evolution of collaboration in environmental governance over time. It examines the origins of ecosystem management, its focus on a holistic, interdisciplinary approach, and its gradual expansion to address social concerns and stakeholder and organizational roles. It also traces the early origins in community-based collaborative environmental management. With origins in Elinor Ostrom’s work on self-governance in response to the failures of centralized government control, collaborative partnerships emerged to fill important gaps and voids. The early scholarship in this realm focused on the failures of top-down practice and best practices and the second generation scholarship began to propose typologies, models, and taking a more critical examination of outcomes. Finally, the chapter examines the research on collaborative public management in response to reduced government roles, resulting in more networked forms of governance. The comparison of these fields and their evolution over time reveals some important common themes and differences, and the tensions between theory and practice.

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