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Scott JPAM Article

Does Collaboration Make any Difference? Linking Collaborative Governance to Environmental Outcomes

Article first published online: April 8, 2015

Tyler Scott, Assistant Professor of Public Policy, School of Public and International Affairs, University of Georgia

What was the genesis of the idea for your research/paper?

I am very interested in the environmental outcomes associated with non-regulatory environmental policy strategies; however, producing environmental monitoring data myself that can be used to test policy impacts is not realistic given the time and costs involved. Thus, I am always on the lookout for opportunities to leverage existing or ongoing ecological data in conjunction with policy and institutional data that I generate in order to test policy theory. The EPA's quadrennial watershed assessment survey represented an excellent opportunity to do just that.

What is the main conclusion that becomes evident from your research? (Or, what is your main takeaway?)

The primary conclusion of this study is that collaborative watershed management groups can engender measurable improvements in stream quality, particularly water pollution levels and in-stream habitat conditions, when compared to watersheds that do not have an active collaborative group.

What are some of the more interesting or surprising findings/conclusions did you find in the process of bringing this together?

The premise of collaborative environmental governance, that we can improve policy decision-making and implementation by drawing upon diverse perspectives and involving relevant public, private, and non-profit actors, is intuitive and appealing. However, collaboration can be difficult and time consuming, and it is often extremely difficult to determine whether such efforts make any difference in the grand scheme of things. This research shows that despite some skepticism that greater inclusion and comprehensiveness might be at odds with rigorous environmental policy efforts, collaborative environmental governance--collaborative watershed governance in this case--appears to foster improved ecological outcomes.

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Author's Bio


Tyler Scott is an Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the University of Georgia's School of Public and International Affairs. His current research focuses on the adoption and effectiveness of non-regulatory environmental policy and natural resource management strategies such as collaborative governance, adaptive governance, and ecosystem management.

His research interests include environmental policy and natural resource management, collaborative planning and management, water policy, and government support for nonprofit organizations. He specializes in quantitative research and advanced data analysis; his areas of expertise include hierarchical models, Bayesian modeling, statistical network analysis, and spatio-temporal modeling. He is an advanced programmer in R and Python.

Twitter: @TylerScottPhD