From agency control to collaboration? : a comparative analysis of ‘paradigm’ shift in environmental management
It is a truism that environmental management has experienced a significant change in the locus of governing, through which centralised, agency-controlled forms of steering have been gradually replaced by more collaborative approaches organised at the ecosystem scale. While much research capital has been expended on informing their design, surprisingly little systematic comparative research exists on the precise nature and extent of what some authors call a paradigm shift in governing. This article addresses this gap in the geography literature by examining how one issue often assumed to require deeper collaboration between actors at multiple scales, namely catchment management, has played out in three comparable federal political systems: the European Union; the USA; and Australia. It reveals that collaboration, defined in terms of several ‘dimensions’, has grown in recent decades, but that its depth and extent remains highly variable both across and within the three cases raising questions over the veracity of the paradigm shift claims of its proponents.