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Tracing a pathway to success: How competing interest groups influenced the 2013 EU Common Fisheries Policy reform
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6255-2335
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7780-1039
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1913-5197
Number of Authors: 32017 (English)In: Environmental Science and Policy, ISSN 1462-9011, E-ISSN 1873-6416, Vol. 76, p. 90-102Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Adaptation of environmental policies to often unexpected crises is an important function of sustainable governance arrangements. However the relationship between environmental change and policy is complicated. Much research has focused on understanding institutional dynamics or the role of specific participants in the policy process. This paper draws attention to interest groups and the mechanism through which they influence policy change. Existing research offers conflicting evidence in regards to the different ways in which interest groups may affect change. This paper provides an in-depth study of the 2013 European Union Common Fisheries Policy reform a policy change characterized by active interest group participation. It traces the activity of interest group coalitions to understand how they achieved influence under a changing policy context. The study involves interviews with interest group representatives, policy experts and decision-makers, document analysis of interest group statements and EU legislative documents. Findings identify the important role of coalition building and informational lobbying for environmental interest group success in exploiting favorable sociopolitical conditions and influencing reform outcomes. An insight on interest group influence and its conditions contributes to our understanding of the complex dynamics of the environmental policy process as well as its implications for policy adaptation to environmental change.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 76, p. 90-102
Keywords [en]
Common fisheries policy, Policy change, Interest group, Social-ecological system, Process tracing, Social mechanism
National Category
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences Biological Sciences
Research subject
Sustainability Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-146956DOI: 10.1016/j.envsci.2017.06.010ISI: 000407981300011OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-146956DiVA, id: diva2:1142438
Available from: 2017-09-19 Created: 2017-09-19 Last updated: 2018-04-11Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Understanding interest politics in social-ecological systems: Mechanisms behind emergent policy responses to environmental change
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Understanding interest politics in social-ecological systems: Mechanisms behind emergent policy responses to environmental change
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Environmental policymaking is embedded in social-ecological systems (SES) that continuously evolve and change, often in unexpected and non-linear ways. Such challenges call for responsive policymaking that adjusts policy when new information and knowledge about social-ecological change is available. However, policy adaptation can be difficult as policies often emerge as an outcome of multiple interactions between state and non-state actors that pursue their different interests, aim to achieve their individual and shared goals and make sense of information and knowledge. Complexities inherent in SES can be better captured through diverse types of information and knowledge, while adaptation to social-ecological change can occur through innovation and learning. Research has emphasized the contribution of non-state actors or interest groups in realizing such processes in policymaking. However, interest group participation can also be a source of conflict or result in dominance of powerful interests and resistance to learning and policy change. This thesis aims to shed light on the dynamics of the policy process in social-ecological systems to better understand some of the mechanisms that drive its responsiveness to social-ecological change. It focuses on interest groups and their properties as well as the social and ecological conditions of their participation in the policy process to investigate how responsive and sustainable policies can emerge out of the “messy” political struggle. The thesis first explores the case of 2013 EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) reform to trace the mechanism of interest group influence and identify their contribution to the flow of information from SES. Further it applies the empirical mechanism in an agent-based model to: 1) test the scope conditions of the mechanism; 2) extend it to include interest group responses to change in the managed SES. Paper I of the thesis analyses theoretical frameworks of the policy process originating in public policy research to assess their suitability for capturing political complexity in SES governance research. Paper II looks at the CFP reform case, using process tracing to understand how interest groups have been able to achieve influence on the reform.  Paper III further investigates the case to find the role of interest groups in shaping information flows within the policy process. Paper IV uses empirical findings in Papers II and III, along with frameworks analyzed in Paper I to develop an agent-based model that explores how individual characteristics of political actors in interaction with political conditions and issue characteristics influence the responsiveness of the policy process and result in sustainable outcomes. I find that through interest group participation policies can better respond to change in the managed SES; however structural factors (such as presence of institutional ‘window of opportunity’, issue salience and beliefs of policymakers) can make the response adverse or weaken it. Interest groups also engage in transmitting and interpreting diverse information about policy impacts, social and ecological context of the issue and use framing to convey information that better supports their proposals.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, 2018
Keywords
Social-ecological system, policy process, interest group, agent-based modelling, process tracing, adaptive governance
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Sustainability Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-155110 (URN)978-91-7797-270-9 (ISBN)978-91-7797-271-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2018-05-29, Vivi Täckholmsalen (Q-salen), NPQ-huset, Svante Arrhenius väg 20, Stockholm, 09:30 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 3: Manuscript. Paper 4: Manuscript.

Available from: 2018-05-04 Created: 2018-04-11 Last updated: 2018-04-27Bibliographically approved

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