Collaborative networks and new ways of knowing

Raul P. Lejano, Helen Ingram

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To move beyond legal and regulatory gridlock around water issues in the California Bay-Delta, a new inter-agency initiative, commonly known as CALFED, was created in 1994. CALFED has been an ongoing experiment in policy innovation. Part of the change in management practice has involved constructing new arenas that engage multiple perspectives and transform regulatory impasse into provisional steps forward. We examine the construction of so-called boundary objects, which are forums and policy instruments that cross group boundaries and foster integrative deliberation. We compare the design and action of two boundary objects created by CALFED, namely the Environmental Water Account (EWA) and the Water Use Efficiency (WUE) program. We find that the presence of the boundary object, in itself, does little to explain the success of each policy experiment. Rather, the answer lies in the types of network interactions that result, along with the way meaning is coproduced. In fact, rather than create new patterns of interrelationship (e.g., between fish habitat advocates and pump station operators), the boundary object might further embed institutionalized routines. To more deeply understand what makes the new institution an integrative one, we introduce the concept of Ways of Knowing which explains how new knowledge emerges from the network of new relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)653-662
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
Issue number6
StatePublished - Oct 2009


  • Institutions
  • Networks
  • Policy analysis
  • Water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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