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Sustainability of natural resource governance under interest group competition in policy making
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6255-2335
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7780-1039
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Non-state actors play an increasingly important role in environmental policy processes. Lobbying activities of interest groups have often been associated with policy stasis and environmental degradation. Little is known, however, about the causal mechanisms through which competition between diverse interest groups can enhance or reduce the adaptive capacity of a governance system. By combining an empirical study with agent-based modelling we explore competing interest group behavior and its implications for responses of the policy system to perceived changes in a fishery. We find that interest group coalition formation as a response to changes in the resource allows the policy system to better respond to resource decline. This mechanism, however, is highly contingent on the distribution of funding among interest groups, issue salience and characteristics of the political system (beliefs of policymakers). Testing the mechanism of interest group influence on policy change allows us to better understand the conditions under which environmental policymaking involving diverse interests and strong (economic/industry) pressure can avoid resource overexploitation.

National Category
Political Science Biological Sciences
Research subject
Sustainability Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-155108OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-155108DiVA, id: diva2:1197079
Available from: 2018-04-11 Created: 2018-04-11 Last updated: 2018-04-12Bibliographically 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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