Structuring Collaborative Implementation on US National Forests: How Formality and Inclusivity Influence Effectiveness in the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program
Monroe, Ashley (author)
Butler, William H. (William Hale) (professor co-directing dissertation)
Coutts, Christopher (professor co-directing dissertation)
Scholz, John T. (university representative)
Coleman, Eric A. (committee member)
Florida State University (degree granting institution)
College of Social Sciences and Public Policy (degree granting college)
Department of Urban and Regional Planning (degree granting department)
This research examines how recommendations for ecological restoration at a landscape scale are collaboratively developed and integrated into the United States Forest Service (USFS) decision-making and implementation processes. As the USFS embarks upon innovative approaches to collaboration after decades of legislation that encourages public input and collaborative planning processes, the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP) marks a shift as it requires collaboration through planning, implementation and monitoring on landscape scale ecological restoration projects. While collaborative planning has become widely practiced in public lands management (Wondolleck & Yaffee, 2000; Koontz et al., 2004), challenges emerge about how to provide for effective collaboration throughout implementation. Collaborative literature suggests that formal processes create a clear decision-making structure and provide legitimacy (Bryson et al., 2006), and more informal processes help generate the dialogue and innovation necessary to resolve complex problems (Innes et al., 2007). Other normative principles suggest the success of collaborative planning is contingent upon having an open and inclusive process with representation from all stakeholder groups that have a stake in the issue at hand (Gray, 1989; Innes & Booher, 2010). In this research, I examine how different collaborative organizational structures can shape effective collaborative implementation. The question this research analyzes is: How do the different collaborative organizational structures perform in processing information, enabling dialogue among diverse interests, generating recommendations, and contributing to the implementation of landscape restoration? I address this question through a comparative case analysis of five of the collaborative groups originally funded under CFLRP in 2010. I conducted more than 10 interviews with participants from each landscape collaborative, analyzed numerous documents from the original proposals to annual reports, NEPA planning documents, meeting minutes and other relevant materials, and observed collaborative meetings on all of the landscapes. While each collaborative group developed various organizational structures and processes for creating opportunities for dialogue and processing technical information, they each performed differently in regard to the generation of recommendations for restoration treatments. Through my comparative analysis of the different collaborative groups, I found that the highest performing group was strategically and systematically inclusive of a range of interests and formally established with a charter between the group and USFS. Meanwhile, informal and exclusive structures struggled to obtain social legitimacy and were unable to develop and deliver recommendations that were incorporated into agency decision-making. Moreover, inconsistent meeting forums made it difficult to engage in dialogue, process information, or generate recommendations. I conclude with propositions about collaborative implementation. Among these propositions, there are two important structural elements that help refine the existing literature about how to structure collaboration to sustain itself throughout implementation. First, I argue that while informal dialogue is crucial to collaborative processes, formality provides legitimacy and transparency of process that can enhance consistent engagement in dialogue throughout all phases of the policy process. Second, inclusion of diverse stakeholders is critical to ensure that collaborative input is socially and politically legitimate as well as meeting minimal legal requirements for engaging with public land management agencies in planning, implementation and monitoring. These propositions refine existing theories of collaborative governance while adding nuance to our understanding of effective collaboration in practice.
Collaborative decision-making, Collaborative implementation, Forest restoration
April 7, 2015.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Urban & Regional Planning in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
William Butler, Professor Co-Directing Dissertation; Christopher Coutts, Professor Co-Directing Dissertation; John Scholz, University Representative; Eric Coleman, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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