Panel: Water Governance and Knowledge Flows
(Natural Resource Security, Energy and Environmental Policy)

Thursday, November 6, 2014: 2:45 PM-4:15 PM
Apache (Convention Center)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Organizers:  Wendy Kellogg, Cleveland State University
Panel Chairs:  Deserai A. Crow, University of Colorado, Boulder
Discussants:  George Atisa, Florida International University

Policy Learning in an Environmental Risk Policy Network
Adam Douglas Henry, University of Arizona and Thomas Dietz, Michigan State University

Public policy formulation and implementation in complex settings critically depends upon generation and use of good information. This panel explores the relationship between governance, collaboration and knowledge generation and sharing to enhance public policy processes. We explore questions of: what institutions shape policy networks to bring to bear knowledge that more effectively supports decision-making? How do shared beliefs and learning within policy networks shape their performance? What types of collaborative activities improve the quality of information and its use by actors? How do disciplinary-based knowledge communities develop shared understandings with each other and with stakeholders? The papers explore these questions across different environmental and resource areas, different jurisdictional levels of governance, and use a variety of quantitative and qualitative approaches for shaping research designs and analysis. The first paper explores the formation of policy networks focused on environmental risk management, where collaborative learning is critical to dealing with complex, uncertain and emerging challenges. Authors Adam Henry and Thomas Deitz study the forces that shape policy networks and their effectiveness. Using an advocacy coalition framework, the paper examines the role of shared belief systems and network learning as these lead to formation of policy networks and influence their effectiveness. The study also clarifies individual versus organizational contributions to network evolution. In the second paper, co-authors Nicola Ulibarri and Leonard Ortolano explore collaborative development and interpretation of scientific information in federal hydropower licensing processes in the United States. Through ethnographic studies of two relicensing processes, the authors attempt to understand whether and how higher quality information, co-produced through collaboration, shapes decision-making in the collaborative governance processes and leads to better regulatory outcomes. In the third paper, author Wendy Kellogg explores how knowledge for watershed management is shared across governance networks. The paper describes how the structure of the network of organizations shapes the generation and flow of instrumental (scientific and technical) information and tacit or experiential knowledge (about how to collaborate, organize, etc.) and how this may build adaptive capacity for watershed management. The patterns of interaction are explored using an institutional framework to understand the structure; a network analysis helps to understand the “flow” of knowledge and where it is located among the organizations in the network. In the fourth paper, Aritree Samanta describes the interplay between federal, state, and local level policies governing an urban river and its city as a social-ecological system. The author examines the influence of formal and informal policy networks in shaping governance of the Cuyahoga River, an icon in American environmental policy history that is being transformed. The case study examines the interactions and at times tensions between institutionalized governance mechanisms (law and regulation) and the loose networks that emerge through implementation. The informal social networks serve as a source of innovation and flexibility, improve policy, and shape implementation as conditions on the river and in its surrounding city change. The paper demonstrates how key actors within these informal networks facilitate information flows, identify knowledge gaps, and create nodes of expertise to improve governance.