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Who’s steering this ark? : Exploring the role of power in environmental governance in the Waikato Region of New Zealand

Jens, Renee LU (2017) In Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science MESM02 20171
LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)
Abstract (Swedish)
Collaborative governance is an approach used by governments to create policies in an equitable
manner through the consensus seeking decision-making process via the collaboration of stakeholders
that will be affected by the solution. However, one of the many critiques of this approach is that there
are power imbalances between those involved, that instead make the outcome inequitable.
Collaborative governance was used in the Waikato Region of New Zealand, in the form of the
Collaborative Stakeholder Group (CSG), to create a policy for environmental management. Due to the
policy receiving a negative critique when it was released to the public; deemed unfair and unworkable,
and no one wanting to take ownership of the solution, I draw... (More)
Collaborative governance is an approach used by governments to create policies in an equitable
manner through the consensus seeking decision-making process via the collaboration of stakeholders
that will be affected by the solution. However, one of the many critiques of this approach is that there
are power imbalances between those involved, that instead make the outcome inequitable.
Collaborative governance was used in the Waikato Region of New Zealand, in the form of the
Collaborative Stakeholder Group (CSG), to create a policy for environmental management. Due to the
policy receiving a negative critique when it was released to the public; deemed unfair and unworkable,
and no one wanting to take ownership of the solution, I draw on this case, with the aim of this thesis
being to understand how power influenced this collaborative governance process in the Waikato
Region. To understand the use of power in the CSG, a document analysis of the CSG workshop notes
was undertaken to identify examples of the three power dimensions as defined by Steven Lukes’
theory of power, to understand which groups had power over others. It was found that the CSG
exhibited behaviour that was common in critiquing literature of the collaborative approach. There
were conflicts between stakeholders based on historic events in the Waikato and NZ, imbalanced
representation of groups presenting at the workshops due to influence by the powerful – the
government, and the government using the approach for their own gain to meet their objectives. If
the timeframe was made longer to allow the building of trust within the CSG, and if the government
had stuck to a steering role and let the stakeholders self-govern the process, the outcome may have
been more successful. The participatory approach advocated by sustainability science did not create a
sustainable solution. For this governance approach to work, collaborative governance cannot be
undertaken superficially, and power dynamics between stakeholders need to be actively identified to
ensure a sustainable shift to more sustainable societies. The flaws of this approach must be worked
through, the process and justification for using this approach must be transparent, and the community
must be actively involved in the discussion and setting the objectives to ensure the benefits that this
approach advocates are met. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Jens, Renee LU
supervisor
organization
course
MESM02 20171
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
governance, power, policy, New Zealand, sustainability science
publication/series
Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science
report number
2017:042
language
English
id
8916349
date added to LUP
2017-06-20 13:17:41
date last changed
2017-06-20 13:17:41
@misc{8916349,
  abstract     = {Collaborative governance is an approach used by governments to create policies in an equitable
manner through the consensus seeking decision-making process via the collaboration of stakeholders
that will be affected by the solution. However, one of the many critiques of this approach is that there
are power imbalances between those involved, that instead make the outcome inequitable.
Collaborative governance was used in the Waikato Region of New Zealand, in the form of the
Collaborative Stakeholder Group (CSG), to create a policy for environmental management. Due to the
policy receiving a negative critique when it was released to the public; deemed unfair and unworkable,
and no one wanting to take ownership of the solution, I draw on this case, with the aim of this thesis
being to understand how power influenced this collaborative governance process in the Waikato
Region. To understand the use of power in the CSG, a document analysis of the CSG workshop notes
was undertaken to identify examples of the three power dimensions as defined by Steven Lukes’
theory of power, to understand which groups had power over others. It was found that the CSG
exhibited behaviour that was common in critiquing literature of the collaborative approach. There
were conflicts between stakeholders based on historic events in the Waikato and NZ, imbalanced
representation of groups presenting at the workshops due to influence by the powerful – the
government, and the government using the approach for their own gain to meet their objectives. If
the timeframe was made longer to allow the building of trust within the CSG, and if the government
had stuck to a steering role and let the stakeholders self-govern the process, the outcome may have
been more successful. The participatory approach advocated by sustainability science did not create a
sustainable solution. For this governance approach to work, collaborative governance cannot be
undertaken superficially, and power dynamics between stakeholders need to be actively identified to
ensure a sustainable shift to more sustainable societies. The flaws of this approach must be worked
through, the process and justification for using this approach must be transparent, and the community
must be actively involved in the discussion and setting the objectives to ensure the benefits that this
approach advocates are met.},
  author       = {Jens, Renee},
  keyword      = {governance,power,policy,New Zealand,sustainability science},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  series       = {Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science},
  title        = {Who’s steering this ark? : Exploring the role of power in environmental governance in the Waikato Region of New Zealand},
  year         = {2017},
}