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The pathology of command and control: a formal synthesis

Michael Cox, Environmental Studies Program, Dartmouth College

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-08698-210333

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Abstract

One of the most important theories in the study of environmental governance and policy is the pathology of command and control, which describes the negative consequences of top-down, technocratic governance of social and ecological systems. However, to date, this theory has been expressed somewhat inconsistently and informally in the literature, even by the seminal works that have established its importance and popularized it. This presents a problem for the sustainability science community if it cannot be sure of the precise details of one of its most important theories. Without such precision, applications and tests of various elements of the theory cannot be conducted reliably to advance the knowledge of environmental governance. I address this problem by synthesizing several seminal works to formalize this theory. The formalization involves the identification of the individual elements of the theory and a diagrammatic description of their relationships with each other that unfold in a series of semi-independent causal paths. Ideally, with such a formalization, scholars can use this theory more reliably and more meaningfully in their future work. I conclude by discussing the implications this theory has for the governance of natural resources.

Key words

centralization; command and control; theoretical synthesis

Copyright © 2016 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087