Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: Local Level Collaborations on Environmental Issues in China through the Lens of Institutional Collective Action

Thursday, November 12, 2015 : 3:50 PM
Board Room (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Richard Feiock1, Liming Suo2, Jiasheng Zhang3, Ruowen Shen1, Anu Ramaswami4 and Hongtao Yi5, (1)Florida State University, (2)University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, (3)Renmin University, (4)University of Minnesota, (5)The Ohio State University
Rapid development and urbanization in China has produced significant spillover effects and other environmental impacts at metropolitan and regional levels. China, has dealt with local and regional environmental governance in very different ways, both across space and over time. The common theme to this diversity is debate between supporters of local government mergers or centralization of authority to expand the capacity and efficiency in service provision, and those favoring decentralization or local government and local autonomy to promote responsiveness to citizens. To date there has been inadequate theoretical attention to and empirical assessment of decentralized self-organizing mechanisms for regional environmental governance in this debate. In particular, the role of voluntary solutions to collective action dilemmas in local governance to integrate local environmental decisions in China has not received adequate attention.

This research investigates different mechanisms of cooperation among local authorities in China to provide integrated solutions to address environmental issues in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Region, the Pearl River Delta, Yangtze River and the Chengdu Plain Economic Zones. Using the regional agreement as the unit of analysis, we examine the determinants of cooperation mechanisms among government entities across different levels of government to solve regional environmental collective action problems. Empirical analyses of the emergence and institutional forms of environmental collaborations investigate how the problem situation, the interests of affected actors and existing relationships and institutions shape inter-local collaborations. Based on content analysis of media reports we identify interlocal agreements and explain variation in scope and formality by testing hypotheses derived from the institutional collective action framework.

Full Paper: