Office — Monroe Rm 482
Office Hours — By appointment
E-mail — firstname.lastname@example.org
Major — Comparative Politics
Global Governance, Environmental Politics, Transnational Networks, Latin American Politics, Decentralization, Democratization, Social Participation
My research investigates how the interaction between actors at the global and subnational levels determines policy responses to environmental challenges such as climate change and the destruction of ecosystems, particularly in less-developed countries. The link between the global and local levels is an important part of global governance neglected by the literature. Given the failure of states to adequately address environmental challenges through traditional multilateral approaches, local actors are developing their own initiatives, often in collaboration with transnational actors. In the process, local governments are assuming new powers and responsibilities traditionally under the state’s purview, but often without formal transfers from the central government. This suggests a need to reevaluate common assumptions about decentralization and local government reform, including the role of transnational actors. My research explores these issues through four broad questions. First, what are the pathways and processes by which global environmental norms and policies are implemented at the subnational level? Second, how does the interaction between global and local actors determine the success of local government reform attempts? Third, how do transnational networks facilitate local governments’ assumption of new powers for environmental management? Fourth, how do negotiations between transnational and local actors shape global environmental governance strategies? By answering these questions, my research contributes to the literatures on global and local governance, transnational networks, environmental politics, and decentralization. For a more detailed statement of my research agenda, click here.
The destruction of watershed ecosystems threatens the wellbeing of billions of people worldwide, limiting their access to food and water, hindering economic development and poverty alleviation, and exacerbating problems of disease and climate change. In response, “global governors” (e.g. inter-governmental organizations, donor agencies, NGOs, and networks of technical experts) set the goal of implementing local Integrated Watershed Management (IWM) reforms in all countries by 2015. This has proven difficult due to clashes with local norms and practices as well as conflict among local stakeholders. Given the tremendous obstacles, cases of successful IWM reform present an interesting puzzle. Why are transnational networks of IWM advocates more successful in some communities than others? What are the processes by which norms and policies developed at the global level change people’s behaviors and governance systems at the subnational level? In short, how do global governors change local governance?
To answer these questions I compare successful and failed attempts by transnational coalitions to implement Integrated Watershed Management reforms in Ecuadorian municipalities. The reforms include two new institutions: a local, participatory decision-making body and a financing mechanism that raises local revenue to provide stable funding for managing watershed resources. I first use logistic regression analysis, based on an original dataset of 221 Ecuadorian municipalities, to demonstrate that transnational environmental network connections best explain variation in reform attempts. The findings show that transnational environmental actors have a significant effect and their presence can compensate for a lack of propitious conditions commonly cited in the literature on local government reform. I then compare six case studies to explain the process by which global watershed management polices were implemented at the local level as well as the mechanisms producing variation in success. I use process tracing, network analysis, and framing analysis to analyze data collected during 31 months of fieldwork, including more the 220 in-depth interviews.
My findings challenge common assumptions about transnational campaigns reflected in the dominant “boomerang” and “cascade” models (Keck and Sikkink 1998; Bulkeley and Betsill 2003). They reveal new pathways of influence by which transnational actors implement global policies at the local level in less-developed countries. Local actors in rural Ecuador are poorly connected to the global system and state institutions are weak. Locals are therefore less vulnerable to pressure by global actors and the state than the scholarly literature has suggested. When faced with resistance to watershed management reform, successful transnational advocates turned to local Ecuadorian actors who could engage with unwilling sub-national groups and play on local vulnerabilities and goals. Rather than pressure from “above” or “below,” as stipulated in the literature, successful pressure came from “beside” as reform advocates persuaded subnational groups to engage in a mutually enforcing circle of pressure. Rather than a “boomerang” or “cascade” model of transnational watershed management campaigns, I propose a “clockmaker” model. I also present a process model that identifies key breaking points and explains variation in reform success.
The dissertation also advances current knowledge of decentralization by explaining how decentralization may proceed even after the process is blocked by national elites. Ecuador’s watershed management reforms constitute new powers that were to have been transferred to local governments through the country’s state-led decentralization process; however, national political elites blocked this process. The dissertation explains how transnational actors strategically interpreted ambiguous decentralization laws to negotiate decentralized watershed management reforms directly with local governments and civil society organizations. Through strategic framing and network construction they facilitated a decentralization process that by-passed national political elites.
M.S. Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University; B.A. The College of Wooster
Examination Fields: International Relations and Comparative Politics (passed major exams with distinction in both fields)
Dissertation Title: Global Governors and Local Governance: Decentralizing Watershed Management in Ecuador
Committee: Cynthia McClintock (Chair), Susan K. Sell, Henry E. Hale, Gina M.S. Lambright
“Introduction” and “Conclusion.” Co-authored with Nathan J. Brown. In Nathan J. Brown, ed. The Dynamics of Democratization: Dictatorship, Development, and Diffusion. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. 2011.
“Democratization.” In Mark Bevir, ed. Encyclopedia of Political Theory. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. 2010.
The Middle East in Transition, 2nd ed. Co-authored with M.E. Ahrari, Glen Blankenship, Richard Brow, Christopher Brown, Louisa Moffit, and Daniel Papp. Atlanta: Southern Center for International Studies. 2004.
“Politics and Democracy: Latin America’s Political Pendulum.” Co-authored with Christopher Brown. In Charles Brockett, et al., eds. Latin America in Transition. Atlanta: Southern Center for International Studies. 2003.
“The Role of Protective Accompaniment in Creating Zones of Peace,” Co-authored with Karen Ridd, Peace Review 9(2): 215-220, 1997.
“The Relationship Between the Rule of Law, Reconciliation, and Conflict Resolution in Deeply Divided Societies.” In Dan Mcfarland, et al., eds. Conflict Analysis and Resolution: Challenges for the Times. Fairfax, VA: Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution. 1996.
Working Papers Under Review
“Global Governors and Local Governance: The Case of Watershed Management Reform in Ecuador,” currently under review at a top political science journal.
Other Working Papers
“Reversing the Information Flow: The Global Governance of Water from the South.” 2011. George Washington University/Coastal Carolina University (With Pamela Martin).
“Bringing Transnational Actors Back In To Decentralization: Decentralizing Natural Resource Management in Ecuador.” 2011. George Washington University.
“Bringing Transnational Actors In To Local Governance Reform: A Statistical Analysis of Natural Resource Management Reforms in Ecuadorian Municipalities.” 2011. George Washington University.
My approach to teaching comes from 15 years experience teaching in traditional and non-traditional settings. For a statement of my teaching philosophy and interests, as well as teaching evaluations, click here.