Poster Paper: Measuring Hierarchical Collaboration of Environmental Governance in China

Thursday, November 8, 2018
Exhibit Hall C - Exhibit Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Yixin Dai and Yue Sun, Tsinghua University

Measuring Hierarchical Collaboration of Environmental Governance in China

Yixin DAIa,*, Yue SUNa

a: School of Public Policy and Management, Tsinghua University

*: Corresponding author


Environmental governance needs to deal with trans-border interest integration and conflict resolution. More often, governments of different levels and different sectors set up collaborative relationships with each other to solve the current environmental conundrums. However, concurrent theories fail to guide Chinese collaborative practice because they mainly emphasize voluntary based collaboration and ignore hierarchical intervened collaboration formats. Practical observations, especially those from China, showed that hierarchical authority (i.e. federal government or the nation state) could poses significant impacts on collaboration formation. For example, the strict goal for smog control in Beijing and its surrounding areas led to a large collaborative network within 28 cities in China.

Yet, before researchers can begin to examine the impact factors that impede or propel hierarchical collaboration, there is a need for a reliable and valid measure and description of collaboration activities, which to our knowledge, has been scantily examined in existing literatures. This paper seeks to fill this lacuna by constructing a comprehensive measurement index of the extend or level of collaboration based on Chinese environmental collaboration cases.

By using crawler software and search engine, we collected 60 environmental collaboration cases. Given the fact that collaboration represents both volunteer based horizontal behaviors and mandated hierarchical requests, this paper analyzed key features of collaboration via two steps. Firstly, we measured scope and structures components following existing literatures on horizontal collaboration. Then, hierarchical influence over collaboration scope and structure were added into the measurement framework following literatures on mandated collaboration and central-local relationship. Content analysis method was adopted.

As for the scope and scale features, collaboration formats (ranging from formal collaboration to informal ones), actor homophile (number of participants and diversity among participants), and collaboration performance (whether it is collaboration intention, action, or collaborative output) were measured. Then, collaboration goal setting (bottom-up vs. top-down), timetable setting, and enforcement dimension (whether superior design, monitor or evaluation exist or not) were added to represent hierarchical influence.

As for the structure features, collaboration centrality (whether organization exist as the central point within collaboration), intensity (formality of collaboration), and resource exchange frequency were tested. Considering hierarchical intervention, we also added intervention intensity (degree of formality), intervention scope and frequency (layers and goals), and extra input (in terms of political pressure, policy awareness, and extra resources) to fit the strong authoritarian context in China.

Preliminary findings show that hierarchical impact contributes a large share in Chinese environmental collaboration decisions. With various terms of intervention format and frequency, collaboration center is usually the organization with superior authority. Volunteer collaboration does exist in the Chinese context, yet, its performance and intensity is weaker than hierarchical collaborations.