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Challenges for Building Environmental Information Management Capacities: Socio-Economies in Transition

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Hiob, Evi
Conference: Crossing Boundaries, the Seventh Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Conf. Date: June 10-14
Date: 1998
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/504
Sector: Information & Knowledge
Social Organization
Region: Former Soviet Union
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources
institutional change
information dissemination
decision making
decentralization
bureaucracy
social organization
environmental policy
Abstract: From Introduction: "The process of institutional change in FSU (the former Soviet Union) countries penetrates to the very roots of their social order. The governments of FSU are pushing shift from central planning to market-based economy and the whole system of economic and social institution is under reforming. Developing participatory model for democracy including free flow of relevant information and decentralization of decision making processes are the most challenging tasks to manage to internalize externalities into schemes and accept that protecting wildlife and human habitat is an essential element of life quality. "The risk of future crises can be reduced under two conditions: first, there must be full information about national economies in relation to management of their natural resources, and people must be willing to look at and consider that information; and second, once assuring that as much information is available as possible, there must be incentives to act in a sustainable manner on what is known. This is important to understand that building environmental management capacities and environmental managerial cultures may require a variety of innovational institutional paths. Bureaucracy offers organizations a way of standardizing complex tasks and procedures. On the other hand, organizations that become too bureaucratized and have too many and complex rules, regulations, policies and procedures can be non-adaptive, self-defeating, and self-devastating. Institutional issues deserve much greater attention whenever disciplines and sectors try new alternatives by breaking up strong traditional organizational frameworks. "In this paper the author argues that past police state institutional environments may have a remarkable influence in the transition process from the power and role-oriented to task organizational cultures. Since the FSU countries are in the midst of their continuing reforms, public participation in the decision making on environmental management matters depends on the success of interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral collaborations, breaking down old rigid institutional frameworks and establishing flexible, common goal-oriented task cultures. The key issues which historically are likely to have a negative effect on Russian and Soviet organizational ability for innovations and participatory decision-making are: (1) bureaucratic centralism and fully staffed bureaucracies; (2) the prevailing mechanistical-bureaucratic model of organization; (3) lack of capacity to distinguish private from governmental property rights; (4) corruption not an abberation but a part of administration and a way of life; (5) justice as an institutionalized part of administration; (6) identifying the bureaucracy with the crown (party leaders, state); (7) failure to discriminate among the types of legal acts; (8) failure to discriminate among the various branches of the law; (9) laws need not make public to go into effect; (10) laws too general and judicial procedures poorly developed; (11) the main function of law to maintain order, not to enforce justice; (12) partimonic attitude of the central state bureaucracy; (13) symbiotic identification of church (ideology) and state; (14) objectivity gap between natural (technical) and social (political) education and science."

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