Most contemporary approaches to environmental governance stress that natural resources are better managed through polycentric networks of horizontal, collaborative relationships rather than by state-centric, hierarchical command-and-control strategies. More horizontal and bottom-up governance practices should offer a better fit for the collective action and intertemporal dilemmas that emerge from managing natural resources. Despite this emphasis, critical processes and resources that enable the benefits of more horizontal environmental governance strategies heavily depend upon the public bureaucrats executing the day-to-day activities of coordinating and implementing environmental policies. However, the role of public bureaucracies in shaping environmental governance processes and outcomes requires further investigation. In my dissertation, I investigate how the structure and politics of public bureaucracies determine the emergence, evolution, and outcomes of polycentric environmental governance systems. I particularly focus on developing countries navigating the challenges of weak bureaucratic institutions while experimenting with more horizontal and networked approaches to managing natural resources.
I integrate environmental governance, complex systems, and bureaucratic politics literatures with different quantitative and computational methods to analyse how public sector politicisation, professionalisation, and personnel management flexibilisation affect environmental governance systems’ adaptative and learning capacities. This research aims to shed light on the public administration reforms required to capture the praised benefits of networked and polycentric environmental governance approaches.
Pathway 13: PPPG