Panel: Networks and Collaborative Environmental Governance
(Natural Resource, Energy, and Environmental Policy)

Saturday, November 9, 2019: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
Plaza Building: Lobby Level, Director's Row I (Sheraton Denver Downtown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Organizer:  Ruowen Shen, Wichita State University
Panel Chair:  Richard Feiock, Florida State University
Discussants:  Christopher Weible, University of Colorado, Denver and Xun Wu, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

In response to the ineffectiveness of fragmented environmental policies, local jurisdictions increasingly resort to collaborative approaches to solving regional environmental issues (Weible 2015; Yi et al. 2018). An important theoretical and empirical approach to study collaborative governance is the network (Berardo and Scholz 2010; Feiock 2013). This panel is devoted to advance our knowledge on the organizing mechanisms of collaborative environmental governance as a network formation and evolution process, informed by the institutional collective action (ICA) framework. All four papers seek to understand why these collaborative environmental governance networks emerge and evolve over time in diverse empirical settings.

The paper authored by Zhou and Feiock seeks to answer the question: How do actors participate in collaborative activities with different network configurations in top-down and bottom-up networks for environmental protection? They conducted a two-mode network analysis of Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei, Yangtze River Delta, Pearl River Delta and Cheng-Yu regions in China (2008 – 2019), and found the presence of a weak bonding strategy in the top-down network. Whereas, in the bottom-up networks, strong bonding configurations are important drivers.

The paper by Shen focuses on the influence of power difference among collaborative actors in driving the formation and evolution of the collaborative environmental governance network. She collected network data (2007-2012) for interlocal agreements (ILAs) in Des Moines in Iowa with custom-made web scraping scripts. Temporal ERGM network analysis is conducted, and she found actors achieve power balance by power sharing mechanism through forming closed clusters. Nevertheless, actors are less likely to take risks in reaching out to centralized powerful actors.

The third paper by He discusses the regional collaboration in the Middle Reaches of the Yangtze River in China. She focuses on the evolution of collaboration networks, through examining how China’s collaborative environmental management (CEM) promoted joint prevention and control of air pollution. She hypothesizes there has been limited change since 2015. A mixed-method approach using NVivo and Gephi is employed. The results show system-level changes in policy-making processes, the regulatory tools, and the institutional setup. CEMs keep the point-source polluters compliant, but not for mobile sources.

The fourth paper by Yi focuses on the impact that the career path of local managers has on the formation of environmental ILAs. He proposes an ANC model to frame the career trajectories of city managers as a social network. With data on ILAs on environmental issues in 400 Florida cities from 2005 to 2010, he tested two hypotheses, the direct and indirect agent network hypotheses, with dyadic panel Poisson model. Preliminary results support both the effects of direct agent network and indirect agent network on the formation of ILAs.

This panel fits the theme of 2019 APPAM conference in multiple ways. It focuses explicitly on collaborative mechanisms and their evolution from diverse empirical contexts. The diverse explanatory mechanisms shed light on the complexity of collaborative relationships. The papers pay attention to how diverse set of policy actors engage and learn from each other. Diverse methodologies uncover interesting stories behind the collaborative mechanisms.

Bridging or Bonding? a Two-Mode Network Study in Top-Down and Bottom-up Environmental Collaborations in China
Lingyi Zhou, Fudan University and Richard Feiock, Florida State University