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398 The Impact of Institutional Design on the Adaptability of Governing Institutions: Implications for Transboundary River Governance Craig W.Thomas Introduction “Transboundary” refers to political and ecological systems that cross international borders. “Transjurisdiction,” by contrast, refers to political and ecological systems that cross jurisdictions within a country. Transboundary river governance necessarily includes transjurisdictional governance. Transjurisdictional problems must be resolved for transboundary governance to function effectively.This chapter accordingly sets aside the international component of treaties and diplomatic relations to focus on the transjurisdictional component of transboundary river governance. The following sections examine three generic types of institutions for managing natural resources and ecosystems: (1) centralized bureaucracies, (2) politically appointed commissions, and (3) collaborative partnerships. They differ greatly in many respects, including the ease with which they can adapt to emergent transjurisdictional (and transboundary) problems. Bureaucracy is the classic type of institution for managing resource use within a jurisdiction.Bureaucratic institutions are well suited for addressing clearly defined problems through long-term planning by a single agency. In its pure form, bureaucracy is single-minded, because bureaucrats report through a chain of command following a highly formalized set of procedures that limit stakeholder participation and coordination with other agencies. By contrast, collaborative partnerships are open systems. In their pure form, collaborative partnerships lack a chain of command, membership is fluid, and informal norms largely govern decision-making processes. Collaborative partnerships are better suited for addressing transjurisdictional problems than bureaucracies. Politically appointed commissions, like bureaucracies, are highly formalized; but at the top of the hierarchy is a voting body appointed by elected officials. As political appointees, commission members represent specific interests. Commissions may also include seats reserved for public agencies.As voting bodies, politically appointed commissions are well suited for brokering the demands of competing interests through compromise and majority voting,particularly at larger scales. Collaborative partnerships, by contrast, seek consensus among interests, and are more effective at local scales where common interests are more likely to exist. The Impact of Institutional Design on the Adaptability of Institutions 399 The Columbia River Basin is currently governed by a complex array of these three types of institutions. Bureaucratic institutions in the U.S. include the Bureau of Reclamation and Army Corps of Engineers, which operate thirty-one dams on the Columbia River and its tributaries; and the Bonneville Power Administration, which transmits electricity from these dams. These bureaucratic agencies were designed to address relatively straightforward problems—constructing and operating dams and transmission lines. By contrast, the Northwest Power and Conservation Council (NWPCC) is a politically appointed commission that balances environmental and energy needs in the four-state region (Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana).1 The NWPCC has eight voting members, with the four governors each appointing two members.As a politically appointed body, the NWPCC is well suited for brokering interests across multiple jurisdictions. Many collaborative partnerships also exist in the Columbia River Basin,most operating at smaller scales.The Columbia Wetlands Stewardship Partners, for example, operates in the East Kootenay portion of British Columbia. It includes more than thirtyfive public, private, and nonprofit organizations, with a mission to collaboratively manage the Columbia Wetlands ecosystem across jurisdictions. Given the complex array of problems in the Columbia River Basin, it is appropriate to have multiple institutions operating at different scales under different missions.The purpose of this chapter is to provide a framework for analyzing how well each type of institution is suited for adapting to emergent transjurisdictional problems.The chapter closes with recommendations for modifying the existing set of institutions so the entire governance system can more readily adapt to emergent problems. Revisiting the Columbia RiverTreaty provides an excellent opportunity for examining and rethinking how the river basin can be governed in the twentyfirst century. Criteria for Assessing Institutional Adaptation Institutions are sets of rules and norms that channel, enable, and constrain human behavior (Ostrom 2005). The key point is that institutions are sets of rules and norms. Hence, we need not change entire institutions, as is commonly claimed in political discourse, to achieve certain outcomes.We need only change those rules or norms that impede the ability of governing institutions to adapt as new problems arise. Some rules and norms enable adaptation; hence they can be nurtured within existing institutions.This section discusses three criteria for assessing the potential for institutional adaptation:(1) resiliency,(2) collaborative capacity,and (3) decisionmaking authority. Resiliency is a crucial component of institutional adaptation. Resiliency refers to “the extent to which a system can absorb recurrent natural...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780870716928
Related ISBN
9780870716911
MARC Record
OCLC
830023889
Pages
464
Launched on MUSE
2012-12-20
Language
English
Open Access
No
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