Wicked Water Problems: 
Can Network Governance Deliver?
Integrated Water Management Case Studies from New Zealand and Oregon, USA
Jackie Dingfelder, PhD
07 Feb 2018, 7:30 pm
Cramer S 17 (sub-basement)
Portland State University

    Integrated water management is a wicked public policy problem with no clear path to resolution. Ms. Dingfelder reviews an in-depth qualitative comparative analysis of two collaborative governance processes addressing complex water problems in New Zealand and Oregon, U.S.A.  The proposition posits that collaborative networks involving public, private, and non-profit actors are better equipped than government-driven efforts to develop desired outcomes. To test this proposition, research probed the roles of state and non-state actors, conditions for collaboration, strength of actor ties, development of trust and social capital, barriers to success, and climate change as a policy driver.
In the New Zealand case, a collaborative-led process called the Land and Water Forum (LAWF) showed that an ongoing network offers benefits to creating consensus on complex water issues. LAWF succeeded in moving policy conversations forward where previous government-led efforts had failed.  In Oregon, a collaborative network approach created a more conducive environment for meaningful dialogue among vested water management interests, building levels of interdependency and trust and generating a wider array of policy options than possible through legislative and bureaucratic efforts.
The benefits of collaborative governance for policy development were found to be substantial; limitations appear to be obstacles to overcome, not fatal flaws.  This research revealed three key findings about the two cases:
        (1)  collaborative network governance worked well for framing and designing new integrated water policies, but encountered implementation challenges;
(2) managing the complexities around the intersection of top-down, vertical command and control governance with horizontal collaborative approaches remains an ongoing challenge to New Public Governance; and
(3) they represent examples of the use of formal and informal processes for policy development.
Jackie Dingfelder, PhD, brings 30 years of environmental planning and policy experience in the private, non-profit, and public sectors.  She served as the Environmental and Planning Policy Director for Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, and worked as Executive Director for River Restoration Northwest, Watershed Program Manager at For the Sake of the Salmon, and as an environmental planning consultant in private sector for over 15 years. In addition to her professional career, Ms. Dingfelder served in elected public office from 2001-2013 in the Oregon House and Senate, chairing the House Energy and Environment and the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committees. Ms. Dingfelder has a Master’s Degree in Regional Planning, emphasis Water Resources Management, from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Geography-Ecosystems Management from the University of California, Los Angeles.  This presentation summarizes research for her PhD in Public Policy and Affairs at Portland State University in the Hatfield School of Government and as a 2016 Ian Axford/Fulbright public policy fellow in New Zealand.