Panel Paper: Effectiveness of Partnerships for Collaborative Environmental Management: Lessons From the Analysis of the Organizational Life-Cycles

Friday, November 9, 2012 : 9:45 AM
Carroll (Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Mark Imperial, University of North Carolina Wilmington

The last two decades have seen growth in research examining collaborative environmental management (CEM).  Researchers refer to the organizational arrangements that comprise CEM in various ways (e.g., partnerships, coalitions, alliances/strategic alliances, etc.).  Unfortunately, little research directly examines the “effectiveness” of these organizational arrangements and even less research has explored the question of how effectiveness varies over the organizational life-cycle of these collaborative partnerships. 

This paper examines the effectiveness of partnerships for CEM in the following four watersheds: Inland Bays (DE), Lake Tahoe (CA, NV), Tampa Bay (FL), and Tillamook Bay (OR).  The study is longitudinal in nature and extends the data collected initially as part of an earlier study of the same four watersheds conducted for the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) in 2000.  Each partnership has a different organizational structure but addresses environmental problems that are similar in nature (e.g., nonpoint pollution and habitat protection/restoration).  All four partnerships have received significant investments of federal, state, and local funding to address these environmental problems.  All four partnerships also made some effort to measure environmental performance during some point in the partnership’s life-cycle.  The comparative analysis of the four case studies allows us to better understand the organizational life-cycles of the partnerships for CEM.  Similarly, the output and outcome data should allow us to discern the relative effectiveness of each partnership over the last decade or more.  The paper concludes by drawing lessons about the challenges of measuring the effectiveness of partnerships for CEM, many of which have broad application beyond the environmental policy sector.  Accordingly, the presentation should be of interest to a wide audience of practitioners and academics interested in collaboration, governance, and network management.