Table 2. Four governance network hypotheses in relation to KVBR

Governance network hypotheses (in relation to representative democracy) Relevance for KVBR
A. The incompatibility hypothesis: Describes governance network as closed cooperation between strong vested interests forming iron triangles. The bridging or “inter-bonding” links between these organizations exclude other stakeholders and threaten the public interest. Not relevant. For the local steward networks, it is true that the BO often selects partners strategically for voluntary collaboration (theme and adhocracy groups). But these are no collective-choice issues. The consultancy group and the governance network are transparent.
B. The transitional hypothesis: Argues that representative democracy will be replaced by governance networks. Decisions will increasingly be made through stakeholder deliberation, reducing the role of politicians to facilitators. The “public interest” is constructed during the process. Not relevant. The governance network is not replacing representative democracy. The municipality has been inspired by the BO, but there is no sign of transition. The conflict on Naturum moved KVBR to “high politics,” and the MEB took more control of the process, contrary to a transition.
C. The instrumental hypothesis: Regards governance networks as a means for strong governmental actors to accomplish their objectives. An example could be the 33 River Rehabilitation Councils around Lake Laguna in the Philippines in which stakeholders meet and solve conflicts under the supervision and power of the state (Folke et al. 2005:461) Potentially relevant. This hypothesis describes a top-down approach by government agencies to strengthen their effectiveness. KVBR is a bottom-up initiative. The consultancy group, however, may in the future be more formalized and, together with Naturum, used more strategically by the MEB and the CAB to further their objectives concerning nature conservation and the biosphere reserve.
D. The complementarity hypothesis: Describe governance networks as quasi-governmental networks with loosely defined constitutional status in which civil society can interact with public servants. The network is involved in policy formulation and not just implementation as in the instrumental hypothesis. Highly relevant, at least until 2007. The BO has been directly under the MEB Chair, but its governance network was only loosely nested to the MEB and the CAB. This enables public servants to interact across agencies and with civil society. After Naturum, the MEB may choose to control the biosphere development or continue relying on initiatives from the governance network.