Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Documenting life cycle measures of collaborations working to implement stormwater policy in the United States: A complementary use of cluster and factor analysis
by Zollitsch, Brenda Miles, Ph.D., University of Southern Maine, 2012, 215; 3542659
Abstract (Summary)

Since the 1990s, collaboration has been identified as increasingly central to the implementation of complex environmental policy issues in the United States. Multi-level, multi-source environmental problems, including the management of stormwater runoff, require coordination and cooperation across horizontal and vertical dimensions of policy, institutional systems, and structures. The development of highly effective environmental collaborations has been associated with improved outcomes, including stability and longevity for collaborative policy-related efforts. Collaboration structure has been identified as a key factor of collaboration success.

This dissertation studies the structure of stormwater collaborations through the application of life cycle theory. Through literature review, interviews, document analysis and observations, this study also develops a set of life cycle measures adapted for use in studying the structural life cycles of environmental collaborations. Utilizing those measures, cross-sectional survey data are collected and analyzed from 28 collaborations implementing National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) stormwater regulations in the United States. A complementary factor and cluster analysis methodology is used to develop a taxonomy of stormwater collaboration life cycles.

Key life cycle measures identified in the study are collaboration age, formalization (level of collaboration agreements and completion of strategic planning activities), vertical differentiation, membership diversity, and communications. Study findings indicate that stormwater collaborations exhibit structural characteristics in keeping with life cycle theory. A taxonomy of four collaboration life cycle phases is confirmed (infancy, adolescence, maturity and decline), with greatest differences identified between collaborations in the earliest life cycle phase and collaborations in the mature phase. Unique contributions of this study include the empirical application of organization life cycle theory to a sample of stormwater collaborations implementing public policy; the development of a set of life cycle measures for studying environmental collaborations; and the development of a replicable multivariate statistical methodology to create taxonomies for environmental collaborations. The life cycle theory of collaborations explored in this dissertation supports a new organizing principle for environmental stakeholders, policymakers, researchers, and funders. The study concludes that collaboration structure appears to change over time in predictable ways, and that the development of adaptive structure in response to collaboration life cycles represents an important management consideration for stormwater policy, as well as for integrated implementation of environmental policy.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Lynn, Dahlia Bradshaw
Commitee: Fraumeni, Barbara M., Lapping, Mark B., Lynn, Dahlia B.
School: University of Southern Maine
Department: Muskie School of Public Service
School Location: United States -- Maine
Source: DAI-A 74/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Natural Resource Management, Water Resource Management, Public policy
Keywords: Cluster and factor analysis, Collaboration, Envrionment, Life cycle, Policy, Stormwater
Publication Number: 3542659
ISBN: 9781267707826