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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: September 2019

6 - Conflict and Conflict Resolution in Polycentric Governance Systems

from Part II - Interactions and Performance in Polycentric Governance


Polycentric governance systems can promote conflict as overlapping units contest their authorities, roles, and interests, but also provide venues that mitigate conflict. Conflict can lead to learning and institutional adaptation that enhance the functioning of polycentric systems, but conflict can also become entrenched and impede adaptation. Understanding the nature of conflictual interactions in polycentric systems and how those systems provide conflict resolution is critical to understanding performance. This chapter examines conflict and conflict resolution in two polycentric systems that govern hydraulic fracturing and shale development across two US states: Colorado and New York. It examines the extent that conflicts have been resolved and whether learning or adaptation of the governance systems occurred. The chapter considers how the authority, information, and resources of the actors explain incentives for conflict and conflict resolution within the polycentric systems. We observe differences in the conflict interaction patterns, as well as in the performance of polycentric governance in these two settings.