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    Author(s): Carsten Mann; James D. Absher
    Date: 2013
    Source: Land Use Policy (36):73-82
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    PDF: Download Publication  (669.8 KB)


    This paper examines the political construction of a policy instrument for matching particular institutional, biophysical and cultural context conditions in a social–ecological system, using the case of conservation banking in California as an example. The guiding research question is: How is policy design negotiated between various actors on its way from early formulation of ideas and principles to an accepted policy solution on a state or national level? The underlying assumption is that in order for a policy instrument to be implemented, it has to be adjusted to various context conditions. That is, it has to become accepted by affected actors associated with the institutional framework, and it has to gain local validity for implementation by actors related to a particular ecological and cultural context. We assume that ideas about policy adjustments are not only functionalistic questions determined for example by the materiality of the resource it governs, but are constructed and politically negotiated because these ideas may differ among the mental models of the associated actors. These actors are stakeholders affiliated with the policy process, i.e. authorities, public and private organizations, interest groups, firms or think tanks dealing with, or being shaped by, the policy at different stages of its development. As a result certain context conditions and related concerns such as institutional interplay or match to ecological particularities become inscribed in policy design as an outcome of power struggles, values, and interests. These in turn may vary at different stages of policy development and implementation. Each time the instrument is transferred in a new setting it is likely that the incipient policy design may be opened-up and begin a mutual adjustment process among the newly concerned actors. Thus, such policy developments are not immutable but are dynamic. In this paper, the creation of fit for policies on conservation banking to the issue of species protection in the State of California and later to the U.S. environmental governance domain, are analyzed to understand the instrument's emergence and development toward an established policy solution. The focus is on the negotiation processes among the enrolled actors and their strategies for matching the instrument to certain institutional, cultural and ecological context conditions on different scales. Changes in policy design, its underlying influences, actors’ interests, conflicts and perceived effects are identified, respectively.

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    Mann, Carsten; Absher, James D. 2014. Adjusting policy to institutional, cultural and biophysical context conditions: The case of conservation banking in California. Land Use Policy (36):73-82.


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    Conservation banking, Social–ecological fit, Policy analysis

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