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School of Environment and Natural Resources


Sustainability Policy Candidate Hamilton Research Seminar

Oct 31, 2016 (All day)
333 Kottman Hall and 117A Williams Hall

Sustainability Policy candidate, Matthew Hamilton, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Michigan, will present The Structure and Function of Environmental Policy Networks: Insights from Climate Change Adaptation Governance for his research seminar. This seminar will be held in 333 Kottman Hall and 117A Williams Hall.

In this talk, I will analyze regional environmental governance as a complex adaptive system, in which patterns of interactions among individual actors influence the performance of collaborative policy forums, which in turn shape environmental outcomes. The empirical setting for this research is climate change adaptation governance in the Lake Victoria region, East Africa, which features numerous and diverse coordination and cooperation challenges. Using data from a social survey of climate change adaptation policy actors, I show that actors are more likely to collaborate to address these challenges if they jointly participate in the same policy forums, providing support for the idea that collaborative institutions can facilitate cooperation. However, this effect weakens among actors jointly participating in forums at higher spatial levels. Similarly, collaboration is less likely among actors jointly participating in forums that sponsor decision-making at the higher collective choice level rather than lower operational choice level. Turning from the structure to the function of environmental policy networks, I test the idea that an actor’s assessment of the performance of a forum depends upon how the actor and forum are embedded the larger policy network. In particular, I show that network structures representative of “bonding” social capital predict higher levels of cooperation and fairness within policy forums, while “bridging” structures predict higher levels of access to policy-relevant scientific information at the expense of cooperation and fairness. Together, these studies help advance our understanding of how stakeholders respond to environmental change through social interaction, and how “micro-level” social processes generate the “macro-level” policy outputs and environmental outcomes that are of greatest interest to stakeholders themselves, who strive to navigate complex governance systems while contributing to societal goals.

Contact Jeremy Brooks or Eric Toman for more information.