In sozial-ökologischen Netzwerken lassen sich ökologische Zusammenhänge und Governance-Strukturen gleichzeitig erfassen.
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Networks of Swiss water governance issues. Studying fit between media attention and organizational activity
This study analyzes Swiss water governance as a network of interrelated issues. It compares how organizations reflect relations between governance issues in their activity with the way issue relations are depicted by the media (issue attention-activity fit). To do so, a media data analysis, supported by machine learning, is combined with a nation-wide survey. Prominent areas of misfit relate to the coordination between water saving measures and drought risks; the exploitation of subterranean resources and drinking water protection; and issues of micropollutants. The study demonstrates that comparing organizational activity with media attention is particularly well suited to recognize newly emerging, currently neglected areas of governance.
Bottom-up identification of subsystems in complex governance systems
Theories of policymaking often focus on subsystems within a larger, overarching governance system. However, subsystem identification is complicated by the complexity of governance systems, characterized by multiple, interrelated issues, multi‐level interactions, and a diverse set of organizations. This study suggests an empirical, bottom‐up methodology to identify subsystems. Subsystems are identified based on bundles of similar observed organizational activity. The study further suggests a set of three elementary criteria to classify individual subsystems. In order to prove the value of the methodology, subsystems are identified through cluster analysis, and subsequently classified in a study of Swiss water governance. Results suggest that Swiss water governance can be understood as a network of overlapping subsystems connected by boundary penetrating organizations, with high‐conflict and quiet politics subgroups. The study shows that a principled analysis of subsystems as the interconnected, constituent parts of complex governance systems offers insights into important contextual factors shaping outcomes. Such insights are prerequisite knowledge in order to understand and navigate complex systems for researchers and practitioners alike.
Connectors and coordinators in natural resource governance: insights from Swiss water supply
Fragmentation across scales in natural resource governance can impede coordinated action and decrease innovation capacity. Bridging actors who connect others within governance networks helps to overcome this challenge. We analyze two bridging positions for actors in governance networks. First, periphery connectors integrate otherwise unconnected actors and provide access to new knowledge. Second, central coordinators efficiently connect actors at the center of the network and thus facilitate coordinated action. We propose a way to identify periphery connectors and central coordinators within governance networks and formulate expectations about types of actors that are likely to occupy these positions. An analysis of three actor networks in the water supply sector in Switzerland suggests that periphery coordinator positions are more likely to be occupied by organizations at higher jurisdictional levels. Central coordinator positions are more likely to be occupied by governmental actors as compared to nongovernmental actors. Thus, in addressing challenges of fragmentation, higher level governmental actors continue to play an important role, even when they delegate responsibilities to lower level and private actors.
Network dynamics in natural resource governance: a case study of Swiss landscape management
Structural characteristics of social networks have been recognized as important factors of effective natural resource governance. However, network analyses of natural resource governance most often remain static, even though governance is an inherently dynamic process. In this article, we investigate the evolution of a social network of organizational actors involved in the governance of natural resources in a regional nature park project in Switzerland. We ask how the maturation of a governance network affects bonding social capital and centralization in the network. Applying separable temporal exponential random graph modeling (STERGM), we test two hypotheses based on the risk hypothesis by Berardo and Scholz (2010) in a longitudinal setting. Results show that network dynamics clearly follow the expected trend toward generating bonding social capital but do not imply a shift toward less hierarchical and more decentralized structures over time. We investigate how these structural processes may contribute to network effectiveness over time.
In polycentric governance systems, actors interact in different venues, such as forums which foster cross-sectoral interaction. This analysis centres on water forums in Switzerland and on actors with multiple forum memberships, creating interactions throughout the entire forum network. Findings show that the central actors in the entire water forum network are predominantly from the public administration sector, even though members from the private sector are most numerous. Despite an emphasis on the bottom-up and self-organizing character of polycentric governance systems in the literature, this analysis shows that public administration actors still play a crucial role as network managers and brokers.