Collaborative management functions are very often carried out within the context of interpersonal groups or communities of practice (CoP) that pursue some form of collective action. Public administrators employed in state agencies are often asked to work with a wide array of people from within their own agencies, with others across agencies, as well as with nonprofits and firms. Oftentimes, these working relationships are not captured in organizational charts nor are they formally studied. Yet, these relationships play a significant role in the daily collaborative management practices of many public administrators. Drawing upon community of practice theory, an intermediate unit of analysis linking the individual with both formal and informal collaborative structures within and across organizations, this chapter demonstrates an approach for mapping selected communities of practice of public administrators.
Asim Zia and Christopher Koliba
This study assesses intergovernmental decision-making processes undertaken by state and regional agencies to prioritize transportation infrastructure projects for Statewide Transportation Improvement Programs (STIPs). We hypothesize that, first, the criterion of “system preservation” dominates the selection and implementation of transportation projects, and second, that environmental sustainability-related criteria are under-emphasized in project prioritization processes. We test these hypotheses by statistically modeling the STIP project prioritization processes in the state of Vermont from 2006 to 2010. Focus groups, interviews, and analysis of project prioritization data informed the statistical modeling of complex decision-making processes. We find that the projects with higher environmental sustainability scores are less likely to be funded while projects with higher system preservation scores are more likely to be funded. The governance of intergovernmental decision-making processes will require re-calibration and improvements in inter-agency collaboration if environmental sustainability criteria are to be integrated into transport asset management processes.
Christopher Koliba, Megan Egler and Stephen Posner
This chapter focuses on the relationship between ecological economics and robust interpretations of governance systems and networks. Although ecological economists have long recognized the importance of governance, their focus has tended to be on specific policy tools and more traditional views of institutions as externalities, or in more generalized models of governance that tend to ignore specific relationships between institutional structures, functions, rules and individual and collective agency. An integrated approach to ecological economics and governance is needed that appreciates that governance systems exist as both a property of ecosystems and as a property of social systems, and that the governance of social systems concerns more than attending to market failures and regulating market behaviors. To make this point we take a deeper look at the properties of governance functions as considered by public management, ecologists, anthropologists and sociologists. Second, we argue that ecological economics needs to better integrate contemporary theories and empirical studies of governance systems as networks of public, nonprofit and private sector organizations and institutions. The treatment of governance within the political science and public administration fields, as well as those who have tended to focus exclusively on the relationship between environmental governance and environmental policy is considered. Third, we examine how global scale considerations of sustainability of social ecological systems treat governance, and how the ecological economics field has historically approached questions of governance. We consider the place and purpose of governance within two of the more recent global frameworks focused on the sustainable management of social ecological systems: the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA) and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We then return to the literature relating to governance as it appears in ecological economics, followed by a look at the range of innovative policies, policy tools and market incentives that require governance response. These responses include the development of new market mechanisms in the form of payment for ecosystem services; the integration of ecosystem services performance indicators into government performance management systems and regulatory frameworks; and the development of new forms of quasi-governmental institutions as found in common asset trusts. We conclude with a set of enduring questions that can shape future considerations of the relationship between governance and ecological economics.
Christopher Koliba, Lasse Gerrits, Mary Lee Rhodes and Jack W. Meek
The recognition that wicked problems persist across and are to be resolved within poly-centric governance arrangements, and that policies are a deeply contingent phenomenon, serves as the foundation for contemporary applications of complexity science and theory to the study of governance. This chapter traces important foundations that contribute to our understanding of complexity, network and systems theories and methodologies in addressing wicked and persistent problems. In the process, we emphasize important tasks of integrating complexity theory and methods with governance research, a focus on system levels of governance, and the development of complexity-friendly methods in this developing field of research. The implications for harnessing complexity for good governance are drawn.