Regional Governance and Institutional Collective Action for Environmental Sustainability

Date01 July 2018
Published date01 July 2018
556 Public Administration Review • July | August 2018
Public Administration Review,
Vol. 78, Iss. 4, pp. 556–566. © 2017 by
The American Society for Public Administration.
DOI: 10.1111/puar.12799.
Research Article
Ruowen Shen is a PhD student in the
Askew School of Public Administration
and Policy at Florida State University. Her
research interests include local governance,
intergovernmental relations, network
analysis, and urban sustainability.
Liming Suo is professor in the School of
Political Science and Public Administration,
University of Electronic Science and
Technology of China. His research interests
focus on interlocal collaboration, network
governance, and intergovernmental relations.
Hongtao Yi is assistant professor in the
John Glenn College of Public Affairs at The
Ohio State University. His research focuses
on policy process, energy and environmental
policy, and local governance.
Abstract : This research investigates why various mechanisms of cooperation among local authorities are chosen using
the theoretical lens of institutional collective action ( ICA ). The article analyzes 564 local collaboration agreements
drawn from four urban regions of China to explain the choices of environmental collaboration agreements among
cities. Examples of three forms of interlocal agreements—informal, formal, and imposed agreements—are analyzed.
Ordinal logistic regressions are estimated to test which factors predicted by the ICA framework influence the form of
collaboration selected. The results indicate that the involvement of national or provincial government, the number of
policy actors involved, heterogeneity of economic conditions, and differences in administrative level among the actors
involved influence how collaboration agreements are structured. Examining the choice of agreement type contributes to
the understanding of interlocal collaboration and provides practical insights for public managers to structure interlocal
Evidence for Practice
Informal, formal, and imposed agreements are available to public managers seeking to address regional
Local managers should be attentive to local economic conditions and characteristics of policy actors in
choosing specific types of agreements.
The number of policy actors involved is an important consideration in deciding on agreement type.
Hongtao Yi
The Ohio State University
Liming Suo
University of Electronic Science and
Technology of China, China
Ruowen Shen
Jiasheng Zhang
Florida State University
Anu Ramaswami
University of Minnesota
Richard C. Feiock
Florida State University
Regional Governance and Institutional Collective Action for
Environmental Sustainability
F ragmentation issues pose significant challenges
for local governments in effectively managing
their environment. Policy spillovers across
jurisdictions force local governments to look beyond
policy designs that target a single jurisdiction and seek
collaborations with neighboring jurisdictions (Feiock
and Scholz 2010 ). Regional collaborations are typically
institutionalized through interjurisdictional agreements
(IJAs), which vary from informal meetings to formal
agreements to imposed authorities. Extant research
applies several methodological approaches to the study
of IJA adoption (Andrew et al. 2015 ; Zeemering 2008 ),
but no study to date has treated the IJA as the unit of
analysis in accounting for variation in agreement form.
To fill this lacuna, we ask why local governments choose
certain types of interlocal agreements. We conceptualize
the choice of IJA type as a multiactor bargaining game
in which policy actors bargain over transaction costs.
IJA choices are examined in China, where local
governments engage in IJAs to address numerous
regional governance issues (Chen, Suo, and Ma 2015 ),
especially in the area of environmental protection
(Wu et al. 2016 ; Yi and Liu 2015 ). Until recently,
there has been limited theoretical attention to the
possible roles that decentralized, self-organizing
mechanisms for regional governance might play in
China. In particular, the role of voluntary agreements
as solutions to collective action dilemmas that might
integrate local environmental decisions has not
received sufficient attention.
This extension of the institutional collective action
(ICA) framework (Feiock 2009 , 2013 ; Feiock and
Scholz 2010 ) accounts for IJA forms in terms of the
transaction costs and collaboration risks associated
with centralization and decentralization of governance.
Drawing on examples from four regions in China,
we apply this framework to classify urban integration
institutions based on the type of integration
mechanism (social embeddedness, contracts, or
political authority). We derive propositions rooted
in economic, environmental, and institutional
differences among cities to explain patterns of regional
governance. Using the IJA as the unit of analysis,
we examine the determinants of collaboration forms
among government entities across different levels of
government to solve regional environmental collective
action problems. Based on a content analysis of
media reports, the empirical analyses investigate
Jiasheng Zhang is a PhD candidate in
the Askew School of Public Administration
and Public Policy at Florida State University.
His research focuses on municipal
governance, environmental policy, and
collaboration in the United States and China.
Anu Ramaswami is the Charles M.
Denny, Jr., Chair Professor of Science,
Technology, and Public Policy in the
Humphrey School of Public Affairs at
University of Minnesota. Her research
interests include energy and environment,
industrial ecology, science and technology,
and sustainable development.
Richard C. Feiock holds the Collins
Eminent Scholar Chair and is professor of
public administration and policy at Florida State
University. His work focuses on local institutions,
networks, governance, and sustainability.

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT