EDGE - Evaluating the Delivery of participatory environmenal Governance using an Evidence-based research design

Project: Research

Project participants

  • Europäischer Forschungsrat ERC
Participation of citizens and stakeholders in environmental governance is widely believed to enhance environmental policy outcomes. This instrumental claim has, however, been challenged both on theoretical grounds and due to a lack of reliable evidence. Numerous single case studies are available, providing a rich, but scattered and yet un-tapped source of data. EDGE aims to drastically improve the state of scientific knowledge on whether and under what conditions participation actually improves policy delivery in environmental governance.
Based on one coherent analytical framework, EDGE will use an evidence-based approach, combining secondary (meta-analysis of previously published case studies – case survey) with primary research (comparative case studies and field experimentation):
1. Case survey (case meta-analysis): Published case studies from Europe and North America will be reviewed and systematically compared, employing and further developing the case survey method. A sample of c.200 cases will be precisely coded based on a theoretical framework that provides context, process and outcome variables. Results will be analysed with probabilistic (statistical) and set-theoretic (QCA) methods. The case survey is a highly suitable, yet rarely employed comparative method for rigorous aggregation of case based knowledge. It draws on the richness of the case material while allowing for much wider generalisation than can single cases. EDGE will conduct the hitherto largest and most rigorous case survey in governance research.
Primary research will be conducted in the area of water governance as a key area of environmental governance in which participation is explicitly encouraged. The implementation of the European Water Framework Directive (Was-serrahmenrichtlinie) (WFD) of 2000 and of the EU Floods Directive (Hochwasserrisikomanagement-Richtlinie) of 2007 provides a unique opportunity to assess completed governance processes and their outcomes (2001–2009) as well as upcoming governance processes (2013–2015), the latter via field experimentation.
2. Comparative case studies: A sample of around two dozen cases of regional WFD implementation (production of River Basin Management Plans and Programmes of Measures as well as the implementation of measures) in selected European countries will be studied, applying the same analytical scheme as used in the case survey.
3. Field experimentation: In close collaboration with water managers, another set of cases of regional implementation of the EU Floods Directive will be subject to random selection of more or less participatory procedures. EDGE will thus perform one of the first field experiments in governance research. Given the instrumental rationale for participatory governance, this subject lends itself outstandingly to be tested with randomized field experimentation. Random selection of (non-) participatory methods will considerably reduce biases and thus allow for a significantly better evaluation of environmental outcomes. Field experimentation represents a highly promising, yet controversial and in practice challenging approach.
The combination of case survey, comparative case studies and field experimentation will give the unique opportunity to stringently compare and assess these innovative methods of social enquiry under a single analytical framework. In doing so, EDGE will achieve a breakthrough in assessing what works (and does not work) in environmental governance. Methodologically, the project will explore pathways to robust, experimental-based research that clearly head into the yet unchartered territory of governance research.
Name of research programmeEuropean Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant
Contract ID (EU) or Grant IDERC-2010-StG, Grant Agreement Number 263859-EDGE