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Building a Theory of Learning in Collaborative Institutions: Evidence from the Everglades Restoration Program

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Heikkila, Tanya; Gerlak, Andrea K.
Conference: Capturing the Complexity of the Commons, North American Regional Meeting of the International Association for the Study of the Commons
Location: Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
Conf. Date: Sep. 30-Oct. 2
Date: 2010
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/6551
Sector: Social Organization
Region: North America
Subject(s): learning
Everglades
collective action
production
collaboration
Abstract: "Many of society’s most vexing problems must be solved through collaborative institutional arrangements. Growing scholarly interest in these types of institutions recognizes that the capacity for collective learning may play a critical role in the success of collaborative institutions. However, limited theoretical or empirical research exists to explain how learning occurs and the institutional conditions that support learning in this context. In this paper, we draw upon a wealth of literature, ranging from organization theory, policy process and change, and network analysis, to establish a framework of collective learning to guide inquiry in learning in collaborative institutional governance settings. In doing so, we link the process of learning to learning products, and examine what factors shape the process, allowing us to better understand the learning path to policy change. We apply our learning framework to a study of learning in a collaborative ecosystem restoration program in the Florida Everglades. We use a multi-method analysis of survey and case study data to examine the how the framework helps explain instances of learning, or learning products, identified in this setting. In doing so, the analysis illuminates more precise theoretical propositions, not explained by the broader literature on collective learning, around the structural, social, and technological features of the collaborative institution, as well as the exogenous events, which may foster learning."

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