Network structure and adaptive capacity in watershed governance

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Journal of Environmental Planning and Management


What supports the adaptive capacity of watershed governance? Using document review, interviews, and network diagrams, we analyze how structural attributes of a governance network emerged and co-evolved with changes in biophysical conditions in a case study of a small watershed in northeast Ohio. Results indicate that the network governance structure that emerged evolved to become a hybrid of two different structural forms that diversified stakeholder engagement, generated social capital, improved social learning, and stimulated change in management practices, all of which have enhanced adaptive capacity. A significant challenge to adaptive capacity arises, however, as network governance has come to rely significantly on a centralized organization to broker relationships for information and other resources.