Overcoming Fragmentation: Core-Periphery Brokerage and Central Coordination in Natural Resource Governance

Angst, Mario; Widmer, Alexander; Ingold, Karin; Fischer, Manuel (11 January 2017). Overcoming Fragmentation: Core-Periphery Brokerage and Central Coordination in Natural Resource Governance (Unpublished). In: Swiss Political Science Association (SPSA) Annual Conference. St. Gallen, Switzerland. 11.01.-12.01.2017.

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Actors dealing with natural resource governance are often fragmented over different geographical, political and functional scales (Cash et al. 2006, Ostrom 2009). Achieving coordination between actors is thus a major challenge in such settings. To enhance cross-scale integration and coordination, single actors might play the crucial role of connecting different organizations, groups and clusters within so-called governance networks and across levels, sectors and scales. The growing literature on networks in natural resource governance deals with how individuals and organizations, by adopting specific roles within these networks, can influence a given governance setting (Bodin and Crona 2009, Robins et al. 2011, Lubell 2015). In our paper, we investigate two distinctive actor roles, which can overcome fragmentation across various scales. First, brokers connect otherwise isolated actors (Gould and Fernandez 1994). These brokers are of crucial importance for bringing together the viewpoints and policy positions of different actors and ensuring access to external information. Second, central coordinators manage action and information flows among a large number of actors. Our paper shows how these two roles can be formally identified and distinguished within governance networks. Based on network theoretical arguments (that is, meta-governance, administrative capacities, risk hypothesis of network development) we develop a set of hypotheses about who performs broker and coordinator roles in governance networks. We test our hypotheses within the context of three governance networks in the fragmented setting of water supply governance in the Swiss constituent state of Basel-Landschaft. The data we use were collected in a survey among decision-makers and stakeholders in three regions in in the constituent state of Basel-Landschaft. carried out during September and December 2015. The contribution of our paper to the literature is threefold. First, on a theoretical level, we develop a more precise understanding of the differences between broker and central coordinator roles, as well as different types thereof. In fact, the existing literature often lacks a precise definition of both roles. Second, on the methodological level, we propose a sound operationalization of both roles. We distinguish brokers from central coordinators through a newly proposed measure developed in the social network analysis literature (Everett and Borgatti 2016). Third, on the empirical level, we investigate which actors are most likely to perform these roles and elaborate on why they do so. The research gap addressed in our study heeds the call for a more profound analysis of the ”interests, incentives and objectives'' of individual actors performing critical roles in natural resource governance (Bodin and Crona 2009).

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Institute of Political Science

UniBE Contributor:

Angst, Mario; Widmer, Alexander; Ingold, Karin Mirjam and Fischer, Manuel


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 320 Political science




Mario Angst

Date Deposited:

10 Aug 2017 16:58

Last Modified:

10 Aug 2017 16:58



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