Environmental Governance Failure: The ‘Dark Side’ of an Essentially Optimistic Concept

  • Rikke Arnouts
  • Bas Arts
Part of the Environment & Policy book series (ENPO, volume 49)


This chapter discusses the extent to which new forms of multi-actor and multi-level governance may actually induce governance failure. The case to explore is the implementation phase of the Bird- and Habitat directives (BHDs, European nature conservation policies) within the Netherlands, in which new forms of governance were introduced a decade ago. Governance failure is conceptualised through the various dimensions of the policy arrangements approach (1) actors and coalitions, (2) power and influence, (3) policy discourses and (4) rules of the game. The findings show that new forms of governance were only able to address some of the existing problems, while it could not prevent new problems from arising. For instance, under the new arrangements, power struggles became more overt, discursive conflicts occurred between the state department and the lower administrative levels as well as between advocates and adversaries, and rules of the game faced similar contestations. What becomes manifest, at least for this case study, is the persistently dominant role of the state in orchestrating the policy-making process, while being subject to Europeanization processes at the same time.


Multi-level governance governance failure policy arrangements bird- and habitat directives The Netherlands 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rikke Arnouts
    • 1
  • Bas Arts
    • 2
  1. 1.Environmental Sciences DepartmentWageningen University and Research CentreWageningenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Chair of the Forest and Nature Conservation Policy GroupUniversity of WageningenWageningenThe Netherlands

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