Bureaucratic Impediments to Collaboration: A Case Study of the Asian Carp and the Great Lakes Basin
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Bureaucratic Impediments to Collaboration: A Case Study of the Asian Carp and the Great Lakes Basin Christina Wille Chair of the Supervisory Committee: Professor Thomas Leschine School of Marine and Environmental Affairs Silver carp and bighead carp, also known as Asian carp, were first imported to the United States in the early 1970s for use in aquaculture, research, and waste management; however, these species escaped to the Mississippi River basin in various flooding incidents by 1980s. Both species have now spread throughout much of the upper Mississippi River system. In the Illinois River, commercial fishing operations harvested over 5 million pounds of bighead and silver carp from the Illinois River in 2009. Depending on its life stage, Asian carp will eat between 5-20% of its body weight daily in plankton, and adult Asian carp can weigh more than 25 kg. Almost all native fish in the Great Lakes Basin depend on plankton for at least part of their life cycle, so an established population of Asian carp will have profound effects on the ecosystem. Moreover, the presence of silver carp in a waterway poses a serious risk to boaters, since these fish have excellent hearing and leap 8-10 feet into the air when startled and have caused bruises, concussions, and broken bones when the carp have collided with humans. Natural resource managers are concerned about the possible introduction of bighead and silver carp to the Great Lakes Basin through the Chicago Area Waterways System. In response to the potential introduction of Asian carp species to the Great Lakes, the Obama Administration formalized the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee (ACRCC) in 2010. This thesis studies the relationship between the organizational structure of the ACRCC's member agencies and these agencies' efforts to work together. One hypothesis is that agencies key to ACRCC efforts exhibit fewer characteristics of a bureaucratic organization; an alternate hypothesis is that the agency's calculation of the costs of and benefits resulting from collaboration explain its decision to collaborate or not. Data was gathered through elite interviews with agency representatives who attend ACRCC meetings. Interview questions were designed to gather insights into several different aspects of the agencies involved and the ACRCC in general, including the structure of each participant's agency, the participant's agency's role in the ACRCC as well as the roles that other important agencies play in the ACRCC, and the effectiveness of the ACRCC as an organization, together with any factors that aid or detract from the ACRCC's goal. The questions were designed to be general, to allow each participant's perceptions of the ACRCC to guide our discussion. The open nature of the questions and the resulting responses led to the creation of the second hypothesis midway through the interviews. Data supported both hypotheses: some correlation was found between the levels of collaboration and the levels of bureaucratic characteristics as predicted by the first hypothesis, especially in federal agencies. There was also support for the second hypothesis, particularly for state agencies. These costs and benefits included jurisdictional issues and access to resources (whether these aspects were considered costs or benefits depended on the circumstances organizations were faced with), as well as concerns about the costs associated with the continued spread of Asian carp. However, given the limits of this study it is not possible to conclusively prove one hypothesis over the other. Interview responses also provided information about the level of collaboration for the ACRCC as a whole. The organization provides a forum for communication about the issue among its members, but the ACRCC does not yet appear to rise consistently to the level of true coordination. Due to the limitations of this study, it is not possible to make predictions about future collaborative efforts in the ACRCC. Further studies are necessary to gather more information before such predictions can be reliably made.
- Marine affairs