Creating public value through collaborative environmental governance

Muller, Kobus (2010-11)


That collaborative management has become the central reality of public problem solving is nowhere better illustrated than in the field of environmental governance. Institutional innovations like collaborative environmental management or co-management have flourished and have the leading paradigm for addressing complex environmental issues throughout the world. South Africa has followed international trends with new collaboratives emerging at regional or local level over the last decade. These innovations are necessitated by the need for governments to find alternative ways to add to public value and adopt new roles to cope with ‘the limits to governance’ which threaten to overwhelm public action. It is in this context that the trend towards decentralised units that are selfregulated and diverse, which can act locally and are freed from many of the standardising constraints characteristic of hierarchical government, must be viewed and in which public leaders act as brokers leveraging resources held by third parties instead of controlling in-house resources. It is generally accepted that co-management entails a process and ultimately consensus building among all stakeholders as partners to develop relationships and knowledge which will enable them to generate sustainable solutions to new challenges. This article reflects on the question of whether the involvement of new actors in public decision-making improves the outcomes by creating shared responsibility, improving transparency, better targeting collaborative resource management to community needs and ultimately adding to the creation of public value. The challenges of public leadership in these processes will be highlighted as one of the critical key success factors in achieving these desired outcomes.

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