Social capital in large-scale environmental collaboration: the case of the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program

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Environmental collaborative governance arrangements have the potential to build social capital, leading to long-term cooperation among parties with a history of conflict over water use, in particular in irrigation, hydropower production and riverine wildlife habitat. Previous research on social capital in the context of collaborative governance has emphasized small-scale grassroots initiatives where actors hold common membership in civic associations. This study explores a large-scale policy level collaborative arrangement as a case of collective action facilitated by elements of social capital, with a special emphasis on the concept of the institution as social capital. The Platte River Recovery Implementation Program is the basis for initial findings that social capital formation and cooperative implementation of innovative approaches to water policy can occur at both the local action and large-scale policy levels of collaboration.

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