The role of bridging organizations in environmental management: examining social networks in working groups
Adam A Kowalski, Department of Geography, University of Washington
Lekelia D Jenkins, School of Marine and Environmental Affairs, University of Washington
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The linkage of diverse sets of actors and knowledge systems across management levels and institutional boundaries often poses one of the greatest challenges in adaptive management of natural resources. Bridging organizations can facilitate interactions among actors in management settings by lowering the transaction costs of collaboration. The Center for Ocean Solutions (COS) is an example of a bridging organization that is focused on linking actors within the ocean sciences and governance arena through the use of working groups. This research examines how network connections between group members affect working group functionality and, more specifically, whether cohesive network structures allow groups to more effectively achieve their goals and objectives. A mixed-methods approach, incorporating both qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis methods, is employed to understand the structural characteristics of COS working groups. The study finds that cohesive network structures are not associated with increased working group functionality. Strong, centralized leadership is a better predictor of working group success in achieving goals and objectives.
bridging organizations; environmental management; social network analysis
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