Local government authority and autonomy in Canterbury’s freshwater politics between 1989 and 2010
This thesis proposes a hybrid theory, informed by multiple clientelism and New Public Management, to examine local government authority and autonomy under interest group influence in a modern New Zealand context. Multiple clientelism theory suggests that a local government agency can establish authority and autonomy over natural resource use through selective and sequential patronage with competing interest groups. Multiple clientelism was devised during an examination of American federal lands politics in the 1970s, an era of big government. By contrast, this thesis examines multiple clientelism in the context of New Zealand’s New Public Management reforms during which central government retreated somewhat from natural resource management. During New Zealand’s New Public Management reform era, natural resource management responsibilities were transferred from a collection of central and local government agencies to regional councils. Also during this period, the Resource Management Act was introduced which required regional councils to manage and regulate the environmental effects of resource use. The predictions of the hybrid theory are examined through analysis of the Canterbury Regional Council’s freshwater management between 1989 and 2010. The Council was created in 1989 as an amalgamation of various government agencies. The Canterbury Regional Council navigated between pro-development and pro-conservation interest groups who desired contrasting policy over freshwater use. Three case studies were investigated using qualitative methods to examine how the Council pursued authority and autonomy over Canterbury’s freshwater management. In the three case studies, the Canterbury Regional Council struggled in its pursuit of authority and autonomy despite attempting selective and sequential patronage as multiple clientelism predicted. In response, the Council initiated collaborative governance arrangements to regain some authority over freshwater management. I propose that collaborative governance arrangements risk becoming captured by powerful interest groups. New Public Management reforms for freshwater policy were initiated, in part, to limit the potential capture of policy by interest groups. As a result, I propose the counterintuitive conclusion of a cycle between policy capture and policy stagnation in Canterbury’s freshwater politics.... [Show full abstract]
Keywordsmultiple clientelism; New Public Management; collaborative governance; freshwater management; Canterbury Regional Council; Resource Management Act; interest groups; environmental policy; natural resource management; clientelism; Resource Management Act 1991
Fields of Research050205 Environmental Management; 160507 Environment Policy; 160509 Public Administration
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