Climate change adaptation, social capital, and the performance of polycentric governance institutions

Abstract

How do patterns of interactions among policy actors shape their ability to contribute to climate change adaptation decision-making processes in fragmented regional governance settings? We address this question through statistical models of adaptation policy actors’ assessments of access to scientific/technical information as well as their perceptions of cooperation and procedural fairness across numerous adaptation decision-making processes operating in the Lake Victoria region, East Africa. We measured actors’ collaborative interactions as well as their participation in task forces, steering committees, and other policy forums that have emerged in response to the challenges of building adaptive capacity to the effects of climate change in the region. Because information access, cooperation, and procedural fairness are shaped by social processes, we tested how the performance of policy forums varied according to different measures of social capital. Specifically, we distinguished between bridging social capital (the value of relationships that span or broker between distinct subgroups) and bonding social capital (which results from frequent interaction or from clustered relationships within subgroups). We found that measures of bridging social capital had a positive effect on actors’ assessments of their access to information in policy forums, but a negative effect on their perceptions of cooperation and procedural fairness in forums. In contrast, measures of bonding social capital had a positive effect on cooperation and procedural fairness, but no effect on information access. Taken together, our results suggest that different forms of social capital have separate—and potentially opposing—effects on distinct measures of the performance of adaptation policy forums. The relative importance of each performance measure, which may vary from one policy forum to another, should guide efforts to encourage different forms of social capital across the numerous decision-making processes that comprise regional climate change adaptation governance systems.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

References

  1. Adger WN (2003) Social capital, collective action, and adaptation to climate change. Econ Geogr 79:387–404

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Adger WN, Huq S, Brown K et al (2003) Adaptation to climate change in the developing world. Prog Dev Stud 3:179–195. https://doi.org/10.1191/1464993403ps060oa

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Adger N, Paavola J, Huq S, Mace MJ (2006) Fairness in adaptation to climate change. MIT Press, Cambridge

  4. Adger WN, Arnell NW, Tompkins EL (2005a) Successful adaptation to climate change across scales. Glob Environ Chang 15:77–86. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2004.12.005

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Adger WN, Brown K, Tompkins EL (2005b) The political economy of cross-scale networks in resource co-management. Ecol Soc 10(9)

  6. Alexander M, Doorn N, Priest S (2018) Bridging the legitimacy gap—translating theory into practical signposts for legitimate flood risk governance. Reg Environ Chang 18:397–408. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-017-1195-4

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Amutabi MN (2013) The NGO factor in Africa: the case of arrested development in Kenya. Routledge, New York

  8. Andersson KP, Ostrom E (2008) Analyzing decentralized resource regimes from a polycentric perspective. Policy Sci 41:71–93. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11077-007-9055-6

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Axelrod RM (1984) The evolution of cooperation. Basic Books, New York

  10. Bäckstrand K (2008) Accountability of networked climate governance: the rise of transnational climate partnerships. Glob Environ Polit 8:74–102. https://doi.org/10.1162/glep.2008.8.3.74

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Baird J, Plummer R, Haug C, Huitema D (2014) Learning effects of interactive decision-making processes for climate change adaptation. Glob Environ Change 27:51–63. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2014.04.019

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Baker WE (1990) Market networks and corporate behavior. Am J Sociol 96:589–625

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Berardo R (2014a) The evolution of self-organizing communication networks in high-risk social-ecological systems. Int J Commons 8:236–258

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Berardo R (2014b) Bridging and bonding capital in two-mode collaboration networks. Policy Stud J 42:197–225. https://doi.org/10.1111/psj.12056

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Berardo R, Lubell M (2016) Understanding what shapes a polycentric governance system. Public Adm Rev 76:738–751. https://doi.org/10.1111/puar.12532

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Berardo R, Scholz JT (2010) Self-organizing policy networks: risk, partner selection, and cooperation in estuaries. Am J Polit Sci 54:632–649. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-5907.2010.00451.x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Berardo R, Olivier T, Lavers A (2015) Focusing events and changes in ecologies of policy games: evidence from the Paraná River Delta. Rev Policy Res 32:443–464. https://doi.org/10.1111/ropr.12128

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Bond WJ, Midgley GF (2012) Carbon dioxide and the uneasy interactions of trees and savannah grasses. Philos Trans R Soc B Biol Sci 367:601–612. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2011.0182

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Burt RS (2005) Brokerage and closure: an introduction to social capital. OUP Oxford, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  20. Cannon T (1994) Vulnerability analysis and the explanation of natural disasters. In: Varley A (ed) Disasters development and environment. John Wiley, Chichester, pp 13–30

    Google Scholar 

  21. Cardenas J-C, Ahn TK, Ostrom E (2004) Communication and co-operation in a common-pool resource dilemma: a field experiment. In: Huck S (ed) Advances in understanding strategic behaviour. Palgrave Macmillan, UK, pp 258–286

    Google Scholar 

  22. Chaudhury M, Vervoort J, Kristjanson P et al (2012) Participatory scenarios as a tool to link science and policy on food security under climate change in East Africa. Reg Environ Chang 13:389–398. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-012-0350-1

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Coleman JS (1988) Social capital in the creation of human capital. Am J Sociol 94:S95–S120

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Ellison NB, Steinfield C, Lampe C (2007) The benefits of Facebook “friends:” social capital and college students’ use of online social network sites. J Comput-Mediat Commun 12:1143–1168. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1083-6101.2007.00367.x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Ernstson H, Sörlin S, Elmqvist T (2008) Social movements and ecosystem services—the role of social network structure in protecting and managing urban green areas in Stockholm. Ecol Soc 13. doi: https://doi.org/10.5751/ES-02589-130239

  26. Fehr E, Schmidt KM (1999) A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation. Q J Econ 114:817–868

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Feiock RC, In Won Lee, Hyung Jun Park (2012) Administrators’ and elected officials’ collaboration networks: selecting partners to reduce risk in economic development. Public Adm Rev 72:S58–S68. doi:10.111/j.1540-6210.2012.02659.x

  28. Few R, Brown K, Tompkins E (2007) Public participation and climate change adaptation: avoiding the illusion of inclusion. Clim Policy 7:46–59. https://doi.org/10.1080/14693062.2007.9685637

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Ficke AD, Myrick CA, Hansen LJ (2007) Potential impacts of global climate change on freshwater fisheries. Rev Fish Biol Fish 17:581–613. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11160-007-9059-5

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Folke C (2006) Resilience: the emergence of a perspective for social–ecological systems analyses. Glob Environ Chang 16:253–267. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2006.04.002

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Gabbay SM, Zuckerman EW (1998) Social capital and opportunity in corporate R&D: the contingent effect of contact density on mobility expectations. Soc Sci Res 27:189–217. https://doi.org/10.1006/ssre.1998.0620

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Gallemore C, Di Gregorio M, Moeliono M et al (2015) Transaction costs, power, and multi-level forest governance in Indonesia. Ecol Econ 114:168–179. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2015.03.024

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Granovetter MS (1973) The strength of weak ties. Am J Sociol 78:1360–1380

  34. Hamilton M(2018) Understanding what shapes varying perceptions of the procedural fairness of transboundary environmental decision-making processes. Ecol Soc 23(4):48. https://doi.org/10.5751/ES-10625-230448

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Hamilton M, Lubell M (2018) Collaborative governance of climate change adaptation across spatial and institutional scales. Policy Stud J 46:222–247. https://doi.org/10.1111/psj.12224

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Hamilton M, Lubell M, Namaganda E (2018) Cross-level linkages in an ecology of climate change adaptation policy games. Ecol Soc 23. https://doi.org/10.5751/ES-10179-230236

  37. Haug C, Rayner T, Jordan A et al (2009) Navigating the dilemmas of climate policy in Europe: evidence from policy evaluation studies. Clim Chang 101:427–445. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-009-9682-3

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Hecky RE, Mugidde R, Ramlal PS et al (2010) Multiple stressors cause rapid ecosystem change in Lake Victoria. Freshw Biol 55:19–42. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2427.2009.02374.x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Heikkila T, Gerlak AK (2013) Building a conceptual approach to collective learning: lessons for public policy scholars. Policy Stud J 41:484–512. https://doi.org/10.1111/psj.12026

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Hirschman AO (1970) Exit, voice, and loyalty: responses to decline in firms, organizations, and states. Harvard University Press, Cambridge

  41. Huntjens P, Lebel L, Pahl-Wostl C et al (2012) Institutional design propositions for the governance of adaptation to climate change in the water sector. Glob Environ Chang 22:67–81. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2011.09.015

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Huq S, Reid H, Konate M et al (2004) Mainstreaming adaptation to climate change in least developed countries (LDCs). Clim Policy 4:25–43. https://doi.org/10.1080/14693062.2004.9685508

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Jones PG, Thornton PK (2009) Croppers to livestock keepers: livelihood transitions to 2050 in Africa due to climate change. Environ Sci Pol 12:427–437. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envsci.2008.08.006

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Kalafatis SE, Lemos MC, Lo Y-J, Frank KA (2015) Increasing information usability for climate adaptation: the role of knowledge networks and communities of practice. Glob Environ Chang 32:30–39. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2015.02.007

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Kates RW (2000) Cautionary tales: adaptation and the global poor. Clim Chang 45:5–17. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1005672413880

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Kates RW, Travis WR, Wilbanks TJ (2012) Transformational adaptation when incremental adaptations to climate change are insufficient. Proc Natl Acad Sci 109:7156–7161. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1115521109

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Knoke D (1999) Organizational networks and corporate social capital. In: Leenders RTAJ, Gabbay SM (eds) Corporate social capital and liability. Kluwer, Boston, pp 17–42

    Google Scholar 

  48. Koliba CJ, Mills RM, Zia A (2011) Accountability in governance networks: an assessment of public, private, and nonprofit emergency management practices following hurricane Katrina. Public Adm Rev 71:210–220. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-6210.2011.02332.x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Kreps DM, Milgrom P, Roberts J, Wilson R (1982) Rational cooperation in the finitely-repeated prisoners’ dilemma. J Econ Theory 27:245–252

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Leach WD, Sabatier PA (2005) To trust an adversary: integrating rational and psychological models of collaborative policymaking. Am Polit Sci Rev 99:491–503. https://doi.org/10.1017/S000305540505183X

  51. Lemos MC (2015) Usable climate knowledge for adaptive and co-managed water governance. Curr Opin Environ Sustain 12:48–52. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2014.09.005

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Levin S (2003) Complex adaptive systems: exploring the known, the unknown and the unknowable. Bull Am Math Soc 40:3–19. https://doi.org/10.1090/S0273-0979-02-00965-5

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Lubell M (2013) Governing institutional complexity: the ecology of games framework. Policy Stud J 41:537–559. https://doi.org/10.1111/psj.12028

    Article  Google Scholar 

  54. Lubell M, Henry AD, McCoy M (2010) Collaborative institutions in an ecology of games. Am J Polit Sci 54:287–300

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Lubell M, Robins G, Wang P (2014) Network structure and institutional complexity in an ecology of water management games. Ecol Soc 19. https://doi.org/10.5751/ES-06880-190423

  56. Lubell M, Mewhirter J, Berardo R, Scholz J (2017) Transaction costs and the perceived effectiveness of complex institutional systems. Public Adm Rev 77:668–680. https://doi.org/10.1111/puar.12622

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. McAllister RRJ, McCrea R, Lubell MN (2013) Policy networks, stakeholder interactions and climate adaptation in the region of South East Queensland, Australia. Reg Environ Chang 1–13. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-013-0489-4

  58. McAllister RRJ, Taylor BM, Harman BP (2015) Partnership networks for urban development: how structure is shaped by risk. Policy Stud J 43:379–398. https://doi.org/10.1111/psj.12103

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. McEvily B, Zaheer A (1999) Bridging ties: a source of firm heterogeneity in competitive capabilities. Strateg Manag J 20:1133–1156

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. Mewhirter J, Lubell M, Berardo R (2018) Institutional externalities and actor performance in polycentric governance systems. Environ Policy Gov 28:295–307. https://doi.org/10.1002/eet.1816

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Morrison TH, Adger WN, Brown K et al (2017) Mitigation and adaptation in polycentric systems: sources of power in the pursuit of collective goals. Wiley Interdiscip Rev Clim Chang 8:e479. https://doi.org/10.1002/wcc.479

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Moser SC, Ekstrom JA (2010) A framework to diagnose barriers to climate change adaptation. Proc Natl Acad Sci 107:22026–22031. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1007887107

    Article  Google Scholar 

  63. Narayan-Parker D (1999) Bonds and bridges: social capital and poverty. World Bank, Washington, D.C.

    Google Scholar 

  64. Newman L, Dale A (2005) Network structure, diversity, and proactive resilience building: a response to Tompkins and Adger. Ecol Soc 10:r2

    Article  Google Scholar 

  65. Newman L, Dale A (2007) Homophily and agency: creating effective sustainable development networks. Environ Dev Sustain 9:79–90. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10668-005-9004-5

    Article  Google Scholar 

  66. Newton K (1997) Social capital and democracy. Am Behav Sci 40:575–586. https://doi.org/10.1177/0002764297040005004

    Article  Google Scholar 

  67. Onyx J, Bullen P (2000) Measuring social capital in five communities. J Appl Behav Sci 36:23–42. https://doi.org/10.1177/0021886300361002

    Article  Google Scholar 

  68. Osman-Elasha B, Downing T (2007) Lessons learned in preparing national adaptation programmes of action in Eastern and Southern Africa. European Capacity Building Initiative: Oxford. http://www.eurocapacity.org/downloads/ecbi_NAPA_PA_Project_2007.pdf

  69. Ostrom E (1994) Constituting social capital and collective action. J Theor Polit 6:527–562. https://doi.org/10.1177/0951692894006004006

    Article  Google Scholar 

  70. Ostrom E (2010) Polycentric systems for coping with collective action and global environmental change. Glob Environ Chang 20:550–557. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2010.07.004

    Article  Google Scholar 

  71. Ostrom V, Tiebout CM, Warren R (1961) The organization of government in metropolitan areas: a theoretical inquiry. Am Polit Sci Rev 55:831–842. https://doi.org/10.2307/1952530

    Article  Google Scholar 

  72. Paavola J, Adger WN (2002) Justice and adaptation to climate change. Research Working Paper 23, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change, Norwich

  73. Paavola J, Gouldson A, Kluvánková-Oravská T (2009) Interplay of actors, scales, frameworks and regimes in the governance of biodiversity. Environ Policy Gov 19:148–158. https://doi.org/10.1002/eet.505

    Article  Google Scholar 

  74. Pahl-Wostl C (2009) A conceptual framework for analysing adaptive capacity and multi-level learning processes in resource governance regimes. Glob Environ Chang 19:354–365. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2009.06.001

    Article  Google Scholar 

  75. Pelling M, High C, Dearing J, Smith D (2008) Shadow spaces for social learning: a relational understanding of adaptive capacity to climate change within organisations. Environ Plan A 40:867–884. https://doi.org/10.1068/a39148

    Article  Google Scholar 

  76. Pettersson M, van Rijswick M, Suykens C et al (2017) Assessing the legitimacy of flood risk governance arrangements in Europe: insights from intra-country evaluations. Water Int 42:929–944. https://doi.org/10.1080/02508060.2017.1393716

    Article  Google Scholar 

  77. Portes A (1998) Social capital: its origins and applications in modern sociology. Annu Rev Sociol 24:1–24. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.soc.24.1.1

    Article  Google Scholar 

  78. Potoski M, Prakash A (2004) The regulation dilemma: cooperation and conflict in environmental governance. Public Adm Rev 64:152–163. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-6210.2004.00357.x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  79. Putnam RD (2000) Bowling alone. Simon and Schuster, New York

    Google Scholar 

  80. Ramirez-Sanchez S, Pinkerton E (2009) The impact of resource scarcity on bonding and bridging social capital: the case of fishers’ information-sharing networks in Loreto, BCS, Mexico. Ecol Soc 14:22

    Article  Google Scholar 

  81. Schneider M, Scholz J, Lubell M et al (2003) Building consensual institutions: networks and the National Estuary Program. Am J Polit Sci 47:143–158. https://doi.org/10.1111/1540-5907.00010

    Article  Google Scholar 

  82. Scott T, Thomas C (2015) Do collaborative groups enhance interorganizational networks? Public Perform Manag Rev 38:654–683. https://doi.org/10.1080/15309576.2015.1031008

    Article  Google Scholar 

  83. Shackleton S, Ziervogel G, Sallu S et al (2015) Why is socially-just climate change adaptation in sub-Saharan Africa so challenging? A review of barriers identified from empirical cases. Wiley Interdiscip Rev Clim Chang 6:321–344. https://doi.org/10.1002/wcc.335

    Article  Google Scholar 

  84. Taylor BM, McAllister RRJ (2013) Bringing it all together: researcher dialogue to improve synthesis in regional climate adaptation in South-East Queensland, Australia. Reg Environ Chang 14:513–526. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-013-0517-4

    Article  Google Scholar 

  85. Thornton PK, Jones PG, Alagarswamy G, Andresen J (2009a) Spatial variation of crop yield response to climate change in East Africa. Glob Environ Chang 19:54–65. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2008.08.005

    Article  Google Scholar 

  86. Thornton PK, van de Steeg J, Notenbaert A, Herrero M (2009b) The impacts of climate change on livestock and livestock systems in developing countries: a review of what we know and what we need to know. Agric Syst 101:113–127. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agsy.2009.05.002

    Article  Google Scholar 

  87. Tschakert P, Dietrich KA (2010) Anticipatory learning for climate change adaptation and resilience. Ecol Soc 15:11

    Article  Google Scholar 

  88. Tyler TR, Blader SL (2002) Autonomous vs. comparative status: must we be better than others to feel good about ourselves? Organ Behav Hum Decis Process 89:813–838. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0749-5978(02)00031-6

    Article  Google Scholar 

  89. Urwin K, Jordan A (2008) Does public policy support or undermine climate change adaptation? Exploring policy interplay across different scales of governance. Glob Environ Chang 18:180–191. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2007.08.002

    Article  Google Scholar 

  90. Vervoort JM, Thornton PK, Kristjanson P et al (2014) Challenges to scenario-guided adaptive action on food security under climate change. Glob Environ Chang 28:383–394. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2014.03.001

    Article  Google Scholar 

  91. Weiss K, Hamann M, Kinney M, Marsh H (2012) Knowledge exchange and policy influence in a marine resource governance network. Glob Environ Chang 22:178–188. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2011.09.007

    Article  Google Scholar 

  92. Wildavsky A (1988) Searching for safety. Transaction publishers, New Brunswick

    Google Scholar 

  93. Young OR (2002) The institutional dimensions of environmental change: fit, interplay, and scale. MIT Press, Cambridge

Download references

Acknowledgements

We thank E. Namaganda, S. Lwasa, P. Onyango, and C. Mundia for valuable recommendations and logistical assistance preceding and during fieldwork. We thank G. Arnold and M. Springborn for helpful comments on an earlier draft.

Funding

This research was partially supported by NSF Division of Graduate Education (DGE) #0801430, the Responding to Rapid Environmental Change (REACH) IGERT awarded to UC Davis, and a Jastro-Shields grant from UC Davis.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Matthew L. Hamilton.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Electronic supplementary material

Supplementary Table 1

(DOCX 14 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Hamilton, M.L., Lubell, M. Climate change adaptation, social capital, and the performance of polycentric governance institutions. Climatic Change 152, 307–326 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-019-02380-2

Download citation