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 4: The other side of managing in networks

Robert Agranoff

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


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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