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Fine, I admit I like Twitter as an outreach tool. My fondness for Twitter was recently reinforced when I replied to a message from the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) regarding the various agencies and planning processes around the Murray-Darling watershed in Australia. I was pleasantly surprised when the MDBA directly responded to a couple of questions that I posed regarding the complexity of the MDBA governance system.
I hereby call for a ban on using "Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting over" to describe California (or any other) water politics. Instead, I suggest we use the phrase "whiskey is for drinking, water is for cooperation".
Now why would I possibly suggest discontinuing the use of such a colorful quote, from such a colorful historical figure as Mark Twain?
First, Mark Twain didn't say it. Or at least nobody can confirm that he said it. So really the quote is an urban legend that everybody seems to believe. For historical accuracy alone, it shouldn't be used.
I spent all day Tuesday and most of the day Wednesday at the conference for Integrated Regional Water Management Planning sponsored by the Water Education Foundation . I was invited to participate as a panelist on the future of IRWMP in California, in particular what criteria we should use to evaluate success. The invitation was stimulated by a paper that I wrote on a pilot study of the Bay Area IRWMP, which pointed out the challenges of IRWMP and suggested that the Bay Area had only made incremental changes from water politics as usual.
Our paper "Integrated Regional Water Management: A Study of Collaboration or Politics as Usual in California, USA" has been published in the International Review of Administrative Sciences. The data is from a pilot study of the Bay Area IRWM, and was written to introduce an international audience to what is happening in California and the type of research happening at CEPB. Although the data is only from one program, the overall discussion of theory behind IRWM is probably our most comprehensive to date. Here is a link: http://ras.sagepub.com/content/current
To kick off the new year, the Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior lab group discussed Lars Carlsson and Annica Sandström’s article, “Network Governance of the Commons”. The article overviews co-management literature and network approaches to understanding natural resource governance. It includes an in-depth review of social network measures that have been associated with social capital. The authors give a brief overview of both co-management and network approaches, noting that the traditional approach to understanding co-management focused on a linear axes of power sharing between “the state” and private actors. They argue that poor alignment between political boundaries and resource geographies-as well as the numerous scales of social and ecological processes involved in managing natural resources - challenge this approach (watersheds are a classic example). The paper presents social network analysis as a conceptual framework that allows for a flexible understanding of the governance structure. Echoing one of the core sentiments of the group, Mark later wrote that he “liked how the paper recognized the nuances of how social networks might affect environmental outcomes, such as the tradeoffs between different types of network structures.” And that he “thought they did a good job of connecting to some of the most important basic research in social networks, in particular Burt and Granovetter, and talked about the difference between more open and closed networks.” The article presents a call for further case studies comparing divergent outcomes, which is always nice for our lab (since that is one of the things we do – see the Schneider et al. reference in Carlsson and Sandstrom’s paper for proof!).
Below is a play-by-play account of the themes in the article we discussed at length. We hope it provides a) a good summary for people who missed the meeting, b) feedback to the authors and people who may use the article as a teaching tool, c) a reminder to ourselves about how this article informs and relates to some of the other scholarly work with which we are familiar. In the comments after to post, feel free to post citation information for references relevant to any of these points.