Sharing Capacity through Collaboration and Trust: A Case Study of Collaborative Governance for Reforestation in Rural Shanxi, China
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction, presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe goal of this dissertation is to understand the application of collaborative governance as a response to reforestation challenges in rural China and the external and internal factors that affect the collaboration. The emergence of collaborative governance is important for the relationship between state and society in China as the central government attempt to balance between centralization and private initiatives to achieve development goals. Understanding the formation and sustainment of collaborative governance in this context can improve the utilization of this approach to support meaningful participation in governance as well as increase resilience to future social-environmental challenges. The collaboration between a Hong Kong based non-governmental organization (NGO) and the Shilou county government in western Shanxi province, China, is used as a case study for understanding this topic. This study site is located on the eastern part of the Loess Plateau, a region with continental monsoon climate and semi-arid sloped lands. I use the Collaborative Governance Regime framework to analyze how the institutional environment embedded in the system context, the drivers, and the collaborative dynamics interact with key actors to produce actions and outcomes, and how barriers that emerged before and during the collaboration were resolved. The dissertation is primarily based on data gathered during five month-long trips to Shanxi province in 2013, 2014, and from 2017-2018. I used a variety of research methods, including participant observation, open and repeated interviews, shadowing, and secondary data collection. The findings indicate that the success and sustainment of the collaborative governance in Shilou hinged on cross-sector leadership. Through sharing capacity between different levels of the government and key leaders’ ability to build trust, participants gradually gained trust and legitimacy in the decision-making process. As a result, the capacity for joint action increased and participants’ concerns and conflict were addressed in an effective way. However, because of the lack of structured interactions among key actors, actions and adaptation to address emergent problems were delayed, causing the less powerful stakeholders to bear more cost in the process. Local key actors’ willingness and ability to induce collective learning were crucial for sustaining interactions and enabling institutional change. Nevertheless, the most significant challenges for the collaboration comes from the external institution environment, which key actors have little control over. The case study shows that collaborative governance opened up a space for cross-sector communication, sharing risk and resources, which allowed local legitimate leaders to apply their skills to generate larger impact. The analysis also suggests that local actors’ desire to learn and work with an NGO with a mission to support rural development was a consequential incentive itself. Finally, the application of collaborative governance in rural China can benefit greatly from cross-sector leadership and an understanding of local institutions in the context of scarce-resource. It is concluded that one of the critical ways to improve societies’ resilience is to cultivate the capacity of cross-sector collaborative governance.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Arid Lands Resource Sciences