Date of Award

Winter 12-2019

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Ecology and Environmental Sciences


Carly C. Sponarski

Second Committee Member

Joseph Zydlewski

Third Committee Member

Bridie McGreavy


The term governance has undergone somewhat of an evolution since its inception, originally describing the act of governing, it has come to represent a more collaborative form of governing which is distinct from hierarchical control models (Marin and Mayntz, 1991). Collaborative governance refers to the systems associated with public policy decision making and resource management which span the jurisdictional boundaries of public agencies, levels of government, and/or public and private spheres in order to pursue a public policy goal or outcome (Emerson et al., 2012). Environmental management is often considered an inherently collaborative effort, as ecological systems and species rarely fall neatly within political or other human constructed boundaries (Bodin, 2017a).

Collaborative environmental governance systems can be a response to joint-jurisdictional management, where multiple managing organizations have legal jurisdiction over a species or system. This is often the case with species listed under the United States Endangered Species Act (ESA). Collaborations can also aid in dealing with the challenges of operating in a resource limited world. By forming collaborative governance structures, organizations aim to leverage resources, expand knowledge of the system, and avoid working at cross-purposes (Emerson and Nabatchi, 2015; Ulibarri and Scott, 2017). Whatever the original motivator, there are practical challenges associated with implementing a collaborative governance structure, and the success with which these structures operate varies greatly (Emerson et al., 2012).

Using the Atlantic Salmon Recovery Framework (ASRF) as a mixed-methods case study, we aim to further our understanding of communication, collaboration, institutional capacity for change, and barriers and opportunities for collaboration through Communication Network Analysis (CNA) and semi-structured interviews with members of the ASRF. The Gulf of Maine (GOM) Distinct Population Segment of Atlantic salmon (DPS) is managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the Maine Department of Marine Resources (MDMR), and the Penobscot Nation (PN). Individuals from these four organizations make up the ASRF, the current governance structure for Atlantic salmon management and recovery in the state of Maine.

In chapter 2, we describe the theoretical frameworks, methods, results, and significant implications of the CNA we conducted. 95% (N=41) of the individuals identified as members of the ASRF (N=43) participated in an online sociometric survey. The sociometric survey asked participants about their position within their organization and the ASRF, how long they have worked in Atlantic salmon management and/or recovery, the frequency with which they communicate with other members of the ASRF, and the productivity of those communications, using open and close-ended questions. In chapter 3, we describe the theoretical frameworks, methods, results, and significant implication of the semi-structured interviews we conducted. 68% (N=28) of individuals who were invited (N=41), participated in a semi-structured interview. The semi-structured interviews focused on member perceptions of ASRF operations, procedures, strengths, weaknesses, and power dynamics.

The CNA reveled that there is relatively high network density for individual communication (56%), but that connections are decentralized, a characteristic that can be incompatible with some organizational structures. Challenges reported by members fit into three general categories; 1. slow and ineffective decision-making, 2. confusion surrounding leadership and accountability, and 3. low adaptive capacity. The semi-structured interviews suggest that the lack of integration across organizations could be due in part to members reporting issues associated with leadership, operational transparency, lack of trust, and perceived differences in management styles and objectives. The lack of leadership was evident in both the CNA and interview data. As the managing organizations work to restructure the ASRF, the results and recommendations provided in this thesis have served as a valuable tool in identifying strengths, weaknesses, institutional barriers, and capacity of change.