Collaborative Governance

Most of my work looks at collaboration and the resolution of collective action dilemmas.  This research field has historically been fragmented between several groups that do similar work under different names – collaborative governance, collaborative policy, network governance, collaborative public management, co-management, multi-level governance, and so on.  Each of these fields has its own spin on the topic, but, like my own work, they all look at the new forms of governance that span borders and boundaries.  All are concerned with how to coordinate, collaborate, and cooperate beyond the auspices of an all powerful state and how people/society self-organize to resolve collective action dilemmas.  Below are links to some of my favorite collaborators.

Relevant Links

The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy has been supportive of collaborative governance in large landscape conservation:  The Lincoln Institute

Also, great work at the University of Montana’s Center for Natural Resources and Environmental Policy

For solid research on collaborative policy, see Mark Lubell’s website

My Published Research in this Field

For access to these articles, please see the publications page for links.

Baggio, Jacopo, Michael Schoon, and Sechindra Vallury. 2019. “Managing networked landscapes: conservation in a fragmented, connected world”, Regional Environmental Change 19 (8): 2551-2562.

Cox, Michael and Michael Schoon. 2019. “Adaptive governance from an evolutionary perspective”, In Galaz, Victor and Andreas Duit. “Global Challenges, Governance and Complexity”. Elgar Press.

Schoon, Michael L. and Michael E. Cox. 2018. “Collaboration, Adaptation and Scaling: Perspectives on Environmental Governance for Sustainability”, Sustainability 10 (3): 679.

Schoon, M., York, A., Sullivan, A., & Baggio, J. 2017. The emergence of an environmental governance network: the case of the Arizona borderlands. Regional Environmental Change, 17(3), 677-689.

Taggart-Hoge, Tanya and Michael Schoon. 2016. “The challenges and opportunities of transboundary cooperation through the lens of the East Carpathians Biosphere Reserve”, Ecology and Society 21 (4): 2.

Green, Olivia, Ahjond Garmestani, Sandra Albro, Natalie Ban, Adam Berland, Caitlin Burkman, Mary Gardiner, Lance Gunderson, Matthew Hopton, Michael Schoon, William Shuster. 2015. “Adaptive Governance to Promote Ecosystem Services in Urban Green Spaces”, Urban Ecosystems 19: 77-93.

Schoon, Michael L. 2013. “Governance Structures in Transboundary Conservation:  How Institutional Evolution Influences Cross-Border Cooperation”, Conservation and Society 11(4): 420-428.

Childs, Cameron, Abigail York, Dave White, Michael Schoon, and Gita Bodner.  2013. “The Emergence of Adaptive Co-Management in the Agua Fria Watershed, Arizona, USA”, Ecology and Society 18 (4): 11.

Schoon, Michael L., and Abigail M. York. ” Cooperation across Boundaries:  The Role of Political Entrepreneurs in Environmental Collaboration.” Journal of Natural Resources Policy Research 3, no. 2 (2011): 113-123

York, Abigail and Michael Schoon. 2011.  “Collective Action on the Western Range: Coping with External and Internal Threats”, International Journal of the Commons 5 (2): 388-409.

York, Abigail and Michael Schoon. 2011. “Collaboration in the Shadow of the Wall: Shifting Power in the Borderlands”, Policy Sciences 44: 345-365.

York, Abigail and Michael Schoon. “Emergence and Evolution of an Environmental Governance Network: The Case of the Arizona Borderlands”, under review with Policy Studies Journal.

Current Research Program

My main research program at this point is a comparison of collaborative governance and co-management.  With colleagues in South Africa, Canada, and Australia, we are reviewing the disparate literature in the many fields of collaboration and the environment.  Our interest is in exploring the commonalities and highlighting the differences.  Following the review, we are all exploring a number of cases of collaboration/co-management in our individual localities (Arizona, Alaska, Canada, Australia, and South Africa) and addressing several questions to find out what works and what doesn’t.  We then plan to build a survey to compare the local successes and failures internationally.

To support this project, I am exploring 20 cases of collaborative governance in Arizona.  My interest is in how stakeholder engagement works for the Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service and how facilitation by NGOs, such as The Nature Conservancy, changes outcomes.  This “local” level work involves case studies (ethnographic, archival, participatory).  From field data, we will also use agent-based models to explore counterfactuals and a wider suite of cases.  This builds on the work of Baggio et al and Salau et al (found under the publication tab).

A second research project builds on past work with Dr. Abigail York in southern Arizona that looks at cross-border collaboration on a variety of environmental issues in Arizona.  Previously, we explored collaboration in environmental management in Cochise County.  The issues ranged from biodiversity conservation to water preservation to fire management to the pressures of exurbanization.  We began with a phase of ethnographic research and institutional analysis that identified 20+ formal collaborations and many more informal ones.  Phase Two of the project then used social network analysis to look at structural characteristics of these collaborations.  The third phase of the research, ongoing, maps the institutions identified in Phase One and the networks of Phase Two geospatially, enabling us to answer questions about how collaborations are affected by land tenure, biogeophysical features of the landscape, and the spatial extent of the problems being addressed.  Ultimately, we seek to understand why collaborations emerge where and when they do.  Why do some projects flourish while others struggle to gain momentum?  In addition to addressing these questions theoretically, we attempt to provide answers for practitioners with use-inspired research in the tradition of Pasteur’s Quadrant.  

A third, related research program, in the planning stage with American Indian scholars, explores the evolution of institutional arrangements across the borders between Federal Agencies and Native American land in the US Southwest.  Following similar questions to those outlined above, this project sits intermediately between the local/state/federal/civil society work outlined above and my research in transboundary conservation at the international level highlighted on that separate research agenda.  In that Native American groups have independence within existing context in the United States, their level of sovereignty and how that influences collaboration is an interesting case that is neither fully independent as in the transboundary protected area studies, nor is it fully encompassed underneath a single sovereignty.

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by J on June 9, 2016 at 12:56 am

    Hey, I’m a student of this field, and i’m really interested in the collaborative efforts you mentioned here in Australia. Can you let me know the projects you’ve seen here or some links where I could find that out? Thanks muchly!


  2. Posted by Kabiru Kehinde Lawal on August 12, 2021 at 12:23 pm

    This field looks quite interesting to me. You have really done a lot. Do let me know anytime you are extending your research to other areas in Africa e.g Nigeria. I would be more than willing to participate. I am a PhD applicant and would welcome any opportunity to learn more about this area.


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