Significant benefits can arise from collaborative forms of governance
that foster self-organization and flexibility. Likewise, governance
systems that fit with the extent and complexity of the system under
management are considered essential to our ability to solve
However, from an empirical perspective the fundamental question of whether self-organized (bottom-up) collaborativ forms of governance are able to accomplish adequate fit is unresolved. We used new theory and methodological approaches underpinned by interdisciplinary network analysis to address this gap by investigating three governance challenges that relate to the problem of fit: shared management of ecological resources, management of interconnected ecological resources, and cross-scale management.
We found that stakeholders collaborate to manage individual parcels of native vegetation, but not for the management of interconnected parcels. In
addition, our data show that the collaborative arrangements enable
management across different scales (local, regional, supraregional).
Our study provides empirical support for the ability of collaborative forms
of governance to address the problem of fit, but also suggests that in
some cases the establishment of bottom-up collaborative arrangements
would likely benefit from specific guidance to facilitate the
establishment of collaborations that better align with the ways
ecological resources are interconnected across the landscape.
In our case study region, this would improve the capacity of stakeholders to
detect both the intended and unintended off-site impacts of management
actions. Our approach offers an avenue for empirical evaluations of
collaborative governance so that preconditions for effectiveness of
environmental programs can be enhanced.
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