The Vulnerability of Polycentricity: The Case Study of Fracking Governance in Pennsylvania

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"Polycentric governance is often hailed for its ability to increase stakeholder participation, encourage political innovation and produce more sustainable outcomes when compared to traditional, hierarchical governing systems (Aligica & Tarko, 2012; E. Ostrom, 2001, 2010). While this type of governance may internalize externalities by expanding governance boundaries, polycentricism is criticized for bureaucratic inefficiencies and increased complexity (Aligica & Tarko, 2012). The conversation surrounding appropriate government systems must include discussion of rules and political values in addition to questions of efficiency (Aligica & Tarko, 2012). Using Pennsylvania’s natural gas development as a case study, we explore the positive and negative aspects of polycentric governance. Pennsylvania is an interesting case study of polycentricity due to the state’s unique approach to natural gas industry taxation and a patchwork of stakeholders competing for influence (Christopherson & Rightor, 2012). The lack of empirical work on the impacts of polycentric governance on different community development strategies in general and within the energy infrastructure space in particular (Goldthau, 2014), allows for the development of evaluation tools for energy governance."



polycentricity, governance