Edward P. Weber

Oregon State University
School of Public Policy/Dept. of Political Science

306A Gilkey Hall
Oregon State University
Corvallis, OR

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My current research explores resolving wicked collective action problems in tough settings, the multiple facets of collaborative leadership, science and politics in the regulatory arena, and science, politics and policy, more broadly, within environmental/natural resource policy settings. My primary policy areas are natural resources and the environment.

2008 “Wicked Problems, Knowledge Challenges, and Collaborative Capacity Builders in Network Settings,” with Anne M. Khademian, Public Administration Review 68 (2) (March-April): 334-349.
Abstract: Networks have assumed a place of prominence in the literature of public and private governing structures. The many positive attributes of networks are often featured—the capacity to solve problems, govern shared resources, to create learning opportunities and address shared goals—and a literature focused on the challenges networks pose for managers seeking to realize these network attributes is developing. We share an interest in understanding the potential of networks to govern complex public problems, or wicked problems. A fundamental challenge to effectively managing any public problem in a networked setting (and here we focus on particularly wicked problems) is the transfer, receipt and integration of knowledge across participants. When we view knowledge pragmatically (not separable from practice) the challenge is particularly acute. We argue that this perspective of knowledge presents a challenge to the network literature to consider the mindset of the managers, or what we call collaborative capacity-builders (CCBs), working to achieve solutions to wicked problems. The mindset, or cohering logic comprised of several commitments, guides network managers as they apply their skills, strategies and tools in order to foster the transfer, receipt and integration of knowledge across the network, and, ultimately, to build long-term collaborative problem solving capacity.
2009 “Explaining Institutional Change in Tough Cases of Collaboration: ‘Ideas’ in the Blackfoot Watershed,” Public Administration Review 69 (2) (March/April): 314-327.
Abstract: Current theories of community-based collaborative governance arrangements rely on the presence (or absence) of certain antecedent community conditions as well as the incentives for institutional change deriving from the socio-political and economic environment. The combination of antecedent conditions and incentives is helpful in understanding why collaboratives emerge and are successful in “easy” cases (strong incentives, conducive antecedent conditions). Yet the combination is of little help in understanding the institutional change puzzle for collaboratives in “tough” cases (strong incentives, poor antecedent conditions). Examination of a “tough” case in the Blackfoot watershed (Montana), which eventually blossomed into a successful collaborative, shows the importance of a particular set of new ideas, or shared norms, around which participants coalesced. These new ideas for understanding public problems, the community itself, and the relationships among stakeholders, became a broad conceptual framework for guiding stakeholder interaction as they attempted to manage the many public problems facing the watershed.
2010 “Civic Science and Salmon Recovery Planning in Puget Sound,” with Thomas M. Leschine and Jon Brock, Policy Studies Journal, 38 (2) (May): 235-256.
Abstract: Today, science and scientists as experts no longer hold sway as unquestioned authoritative sources of objective information in many policy debates. This has led to growing frustration on the part of government officials and scientists over their inability to have science exert as meaningful a role as they think appropriate in the consideration and selection of policy alternatives. Given this development, what can be done to restore or otherwise ensure that the appropriate science and scientists are integrated into the policy process so that they matter to policy outcomes? There is general agreement that traditional top-down, one-way (from scientists to others), linear models for conceptualizing the role of science and scientists in the policy process are not capable of capturing the changed political, social and “scientific” realities of the contemporary policymaking context. Many have gravitated to the concept of civic science/ scientists as a new and improved model. Yet, despite clear progress in reconceptualizing the role of science in the policy process, there are gaps in the literature when it comes to actual applications of civic science. As McNie (2007) correctly notes: “it is essential that we develop a more robust understanding of experience and practical experiments regarding how relationships [and institutions] are constructed and managed across the science-society boundary” (29). This research develops lessons for civic science in the policy process by exploring an innovative collaborative governance effort by NOAA Fisheries and the Shared Strategy for Salmon Recovery in Puget Sound (Washington). The integration of science into the salmon recovery process in this case relied on a series of actions designed to bridge the traditionally separate science and policy spheres in order to increase the certainty of science impact, specific steps taken to establish and maintain the TRT’s role as an authoritative, credible source of science, and the embrace of a results-oriented, adaptive learning approach.
2010 “Thinking Harder about Outcomes for Collaborative Governance Arrangements,” with Ellen Rogers (lead), American Review of Public Administration, 40 (5) (September): 546 -567.
Abstract: In recent years, a growing number of scholars have urged greater intellectual effort regarding the outcomes, or impacts, being produced, or not produced by collaborative governance arrangements. Some progress has been made with “process” and “social” outcomes, outcomes affecting systemic collaborative capacity, the identification of second- and third-order consequences, and in refining approaches to incorporating and measuring real world environmental improvements. But what about other creative, important, and potentially useful governance outcomes that may well be unique to collaborative governance arrangements? Are we measuring all of the important things? We put this hypothesis to the test by examining four successful cases of collaborative governance in four Western states. The research, by discovering and developing three new types of governance outcomes--enhancing agency resources, developing and transferring technology, and going beyond compliance—suggests that our current frameworks for thinking about and measuring outcomes produced by collaborative governance arrangements are necessarily incomplete.

Substantive Focus:
Energy and Natural Resource Policy
Environmental Policy SECONDARY
Governance PRIMARY
Science and Technology Policy

Theoretical Focus:
Policy Process Theory SECONDARY
Agenda-Setting, Adoption, and Implementation PRIMARY