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Oran R. Young

Oran R. Young is Professor and Codirector of the Program on Governance for Sustainable Development at the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California, Santa Barbara, and Chair of the Scientific Committee of the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change, sponsored by the International Council Of Science (ICSU), the International Social Science Council (ISSC), and the United Nations University (UNU). He is the author of The Institutional Dimensions of Environmental Change: Fit, Interplay, and Scale (2002) and coeditor (with Leslie A. King and Heike Schroeder) of Institutions and Environmental Change: Principal Findings, Applications, and Research Frontiers (2008), both published by the MIT Press.

Titles by This Author

Emergent Patterns in International Environmental Governance

International environmental regimes--institutional arrangements that govern human-environmental interactions--are dynamic, changing continuously over time. Some regimes go from strength to strength, becoming more effective over the years, while others seem stymied from the beginning. Some regimes start strong, then decline; others are ineffective at first but become successful with the passage of time. In Institutional Dynamics, Oran Young offers the first detailed analysis of these developmental trajectories. Understanding the emergent patterns in environmental governance and how they affect regime effectiveness, he argues, is an important part of solving environmental problems. Young proposes a framework for analyzing patterns of institutional change based on the alignment of internal, endogenous factors--which include flexibility, monitoring procedures, and funding mechanisms--with such external, exogenous factors as the attributes of environmental problems, the political and economic contexts, and technological innovations. He offers five case studies of environmental regimes, governing environmental problems ranging from climate change to the protection of the Northern Fur Seal, each of which exemplifies one of the emergent patterns he has identified: progressive development, punctuated equilibrium, arrested development, diversion, and collapse.

From Case Study to Database

Regime theory has become an increasingly influential approach to the analysis of international relations, particularly in the areas of international political economy and international environmental politics. The conceptual appeal of the idea of "governance without government"--in which a combination of different organizations and institutions supply governance to address specific problems--reflects a world in which the demand for governance is great but the familiar mechanisms for supplying it are weak. Most research on international regimes employs qualitative methods, often using case studies to develop larger theoretical arguments; but a lack of standardization makes comparative analysis difficult. Analyzing International Environmental Regimes introduces the International Regimes Database (IRD), an important methodological innovation that allows scholars to adopt a quantitative approach to the study of international regimes.The IRD is a relational database that makes it possible to compare records on specific aspects of a number of international environmental regimes that are coded using a single, well-defined set of concepts, definitions, and scales. The book first describes the database and discusses a number of methodological, technical, and architectural issues. It then illustrates the use of the IRD as an analytic tool, drawing on the database for descriptive statistics to evaluate theoretical ideas about compliance, decision rules, and the role of knowledge. A CD containing the full IRD data protocol and all the data currently in the database accompanies the book.

Fit, Interplay, and Scale

Researchers studying the role institutions play in causing and confronting environmental change use a variety of concepts and methods that make it difficult to compare their findings. Seeking to remedy this problem, Oran Young takes the analytic themes identified in the Institutional Dimensions of Global Environmental Change (IDGEC) Science Plan as cutting-edge research concerns and develops them into a common structure for conducting research. He illustrates his arguments with examples of environmental change ranging in scale from the depletion of local fish stocks to the disruption of Earth’s climate system.

Young not only explores theoretical concerns such as the relative merits of collective-action and social-practice models of institutions but also addresses the IDGEC-identified problems of institutional fit, interplay, and scale. He shows how institutions interact both with one another and with the biophysical environment and assesses the extent to which we can apply lessons drawn from the study of local institutions to the study of global institutions and vice versa. He examines how research on institutions can help us to solve global problems of environmental governance. Substantive topics discussed include the institutional dimensions of carbon management, the performance of exclusive economic zones, and the political economy of boreal and tropical forests.

Titles by This Editor

Principal Findings, Applications, and Research Frontiers

Studies show that institutions play a role both in causing and in addressing problems arising from human-environment interactions. But the nature of this role is complex and not easily described. This book presents an overview of recent research on how institutions matter in efforts to tackle such environmental problems as the loss of biological diversity, the degradation of forests, and the overarching issue of climate change. Using the tools of the “new institutionalism” in the social sciences, the book treats institutions as sets of rights, rules, and decision-making procedures. Individual chapters present research findings and examine policy implications regarding questions of causality, performance, and institutional design as well as the themes of institutional fit (or misfit), interplay, and scale. Institutions and Environmental Change is the product of a decade-long international research project on the Institutional Dimensions of Global Environmental Change (IDGEC) carried out under the auspices of the International Human Dimensions Programme. The book’s policy insights demonstrate that research on institutions can provide the basis for practical advice on effective ways to deal with the most pressing environmental problems of our times.

Contributors: Frank Biermann, Carl Folke, Victor Galaz, Thomas Gehring, Joyeeta Gupta, Thomas Hahn, Leslie A. King, Ronald B. Mitchell, Sebastian Oberthür, Per Olsson, Heike Schroeder, Uno Svedin, Simon Tay, Arild Underdal, Oran R. Young

Causal Connections and Behavioral Mechanisms
Edited by Oran R. Young

To be effective, an international regime must play a significant role in solving or at least managing the problem that led to its creation. But because regimes—social institutions composed of roles, rules, and relationships—are not actors in their own right, they can succeed only by influencing the behavior of their members or actors operating under their members' jurisdiction.

This book examines how regimes influence the behavior of their members and those associated with them. It identifies six mechanisms through which regimes affect behavior and discusses the role of each through in-depth case studies of three major environmental concerns: intentional vessel-source oil pollution, shared fisheries, and transboundary acid rain. The behavioral mechanisms feature regimes as utility modifiers, as enhancers of cooperation, as bestowers of authority, as learning facilitators, as role definers, and as agents of internal realignments. The case studies show how these mechanisms can cause variations in effectiveness both across regimes and within individual regimes over time.

One of the book's primary contributions is to develop methods to demonstrate which causal mechanisms come into play with specific regimes. It emphasizes the need to supplement conventional models assuming unitary and utility-maximizing actors to explain variations in regime effectiveness.

Lee G. Anderson, Ann Barrett, Marc A. Levy, Moira L. McConnell, Natalia Mirovitskaya, Ronald Mitchell, Don Munton, Elena Nikitina, Gail Osherenko, Alexei Roginko, Marvin Soroos, Olav Schram Stokke, Oran R. Young.

Drawing Insights from the Environmental Experience
Edited by Oran R. Young

Much of our experience with innovative approaches to governance at the international level involves natural resources and the environment. Whereas the Cold War bred an intense concern with the preservation of existing institutions, the emerging environmental agenda has prompted an awareness of the need for new arrangements to achieve sustainable human/environment relations. Especially notable is the growth of specific regimes to deal with matters such as endangered plants and animals, migratory species, airborne pollutants, marine pollution, hazardous wastes, ozone depletion, and climate change. Nonstate actors have made particularly striking advances in the creation and maintenance of these environmental regimes.

The contributors to this volume draw upon the experiences of environmental regimes to examine the problems of international governance in the absence of a world government. In the process, they address four central questions: Has regime analysis produced a distinctive conception of governance that can be applied to the solution of collective-action problems at the international level? Can we identify the conditions necessary for international "governance without government" to succeed? Does the emergence of regimes in specific issue areas have broader consequences for the future of international society? Can we generalize from experience with environmental issues to a broader range of international governance problems?

Thomas Bernauer, Lee Botts, Helmut Breitmeier, Paul Muldoon, M. J. Peterson, David Reed, Olav Schram Stokke, Marcia Valiante, Konrad von Moltke, Paul Wapner, Oran R. Young.