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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.
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Richard D. Margerum, Cathy J. Robinson and Ken Genskow

This chapter summarizes some of the major issues confronting collaborative governance across the chapters of this book. Using a peer review process involving the book’s authors and other researchers examining collaboration, the chapter presents a research agenda for collaboration. This agenda highlights the need for more longitudinal research, studies of politics and governance, work that addresses the art and nuance of collaborative processes, studies of the role of community and the public, research on the role of individual participants, studies examining science and problem complexity, research on the role of external pressures, and work that addresses issues of management relationships.

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Daniel H. Nelson, Rosemary O’Leary, Larry D. Schroeder, Misty Grayer and Nidhi Vij

The challenges of collaborating in the Indian Forest Service (IFS) include hierarchical structure, misalignment of interests, different organization cultures, clashing time horizons, numerous stakeholders, low accountability, complex political environments, frequent transfers of personnel, low trust, lack of transparency, inability to see collaborative advantage, lack of public service motivation, and lack of collaborative attributes or skills. To further understand these challenges, we surveyed 140 senior IFS officers and found that 91 percent indicate an effort to use collaboration as a management and leadership strategy to help them improve outcomes by leveraging resources and providing a catalyst for innovation. In an attempt to improve the success of these collaboration efforts, we developed a hypothesis for future research based on what we call the Need-Attitude-Skillset (NAS) theory. We conclude that collaboration can take place even in a highly regimented, hierarchical organizational culture, but not without significant challenges. More important than strong authority, pressure, and mandates is: (1) an articulated need to collaborate; (2) public service motivation coupled with an attitude that sees collaborative advantage; and (3) a strong collaborative problem solving-skillset that emphasizes communication.

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Helen Ross, Jennifer Bellamy and Brian Head

This chapter examines the challenges of using collaboration on a regional scale to address wicked problems in Australia. The authors’ research reviews four diverse collaborative efforts: salinity management in an important irrigated agricultural region, dryland salinity in a landscape with high biodiversity values, water quantity management in inland Australia, and water quality in the urbanized southeast Queensland region. Their comparative work reveals four consistent challenges. First, the complexity and difficulty associated with solving the problems creates significant resistance that requires major problems or crises to develop political will. Second, building and maintaining collaborative arrangements with continuous policy adjustments and changing stakeholders has generated a constantly adapting governance environment. Third, a diverse range of collaborative scientific research of unique relevance to each region may be available, but needs to be well linked with local knowledge systems and management needs in order to gain acceptance. Fourth, there has been a mismatch between political and policy timeframes and the timescales needed to address long-term resource decision-making. Finally, there has been the difficulty of managing in a multi-level context; ranging from national- and state-level policy to community engagement and local participation.

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Arwin van Buuren and Jitske van Popering-Verkerk

This chapter address the challenges of utilizing collaboration to address one of the most challenging issues facing society today – climate change adaptation. Drawing on an analysis of Dutch efforts to manage their Delta Program, the authors found that consensus efforts were able to overcome deep uncertainties and value controversies. However, they also found significant challenges, including the need to develop more powerful political leadership, trade-offs between scientific depth and negotiated knowledge and trade-offs between consensus and decisiveness. They conclude that the approach in the Dutch Delta Program has been successful in introducing new ways of working, but cannot determine whether this has been sufficient to adjust standard routines in the water domain.

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Jane Rongerude and Gerardo Francisco Sandoval

This chapter addresses the challenges of generating full representation and inclusion for marginalized populations within collaborative planning processes. It argues that collaborative theorists and practitioners must move away from the metaphor of the table, which requires invitations to access and is inevitably located in the rooms and seats of power, to the metaphor of the street: a contested public space with open access, multiple points of entry and exit, complex movement, and self-organization. Using two US case studies, the authors present four essential steps for integrating the voices of marginalized populations: recognizing emerging stakeholder groups, using research to learn about marginalized communities in the local context, starting with the grasstops, and using a variety of formats and multiple locations to engage in dialogue.

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Cathy J. Robinson

This chapter reviews the context for Indigenous collaborative partnerships in Australia. The author highlights the history of disempowerment through Australian colonisation, and the emerging collaborative management efforts evolving in the Northern Territory. These joint efforts have exposed several challenges, including tensions between wildlife conservation goals and Indigenous hunting that is important for both culture and subsistence, and the tensions between traditional environmental knowledge and scientific knowledge. These challenges along with the concepts of nature and culture that underpinned northern Australian settlement have challenged contemporary cross-cultural collaborative efforts.

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Richard D. Margerum and Cathy J. Robinson

Collaborative approaches to governance have been initiated to address some of the most complex and difficult problems facing society today. This chapter reviews the principles and concepts embodying collaboration and its evolution from a range of disciplines. It reviews the emergence of collaboration in the United States, Europe and globally. It explores the concept of collaboration and its principles across a diversity of disciplines, including urban planning, public administration, public policy, political science, conflict resolution and other fields. The authors unpack the concepts of challenges faced by collaboration and the extent to which these represent limitations or shortcomings of theory and practice. They also examine the concept of governance and its changing nature in relation to decision making, participants in this decision making and the role of government. The chapter concludes with an overview of each chapter in the book and its contributions to (1) theory and context, (2) problems and context, (3) policy politics and power, (4) organizations, stakeholders and governance, and (5) process and participation.

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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.