Collaborative policymaking: Local Sustainable Projects

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    Jon Vernon presently works for the North Devon and Exmoor Regeneration Com-pany. Stephen Essex and David Pinder (School of Geography, University of Plymouth,Plymouth PL4 8AA, United Kingdom. Email ) are PrincipalLecturer and Professor, respectively. Kaja Curry is Sustainable Tourism Development Officerwith Caradon District Council, Cornwall. The authors all have research interests in theimplementation of sustainable practices by the industry and have contributed to theformulation policies to encourage further adoption in South East Cornwall, UK.

    Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 32, No. 2, pp. 325345, 2005 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

    Printed in Great Britain0160-7383/$30.00

    doi:10.1016/ EssexDavid Pinder

    University of Plymouth, UKKaja Curry

    Caradon District Council, UK

    Abstract: The emergence of local collaborative projects presents a rich vein for advancingthe empirical and theoretical understanding of governance in tourism. In particular, newproblems and challenges to tourism policymaking are raised, such as achieving effective orga-nization, representation, and evaluation of outcomes. This paper evaluates a collaborationadopted by a British district council in the formulation of a local strategy for promotingthe adoption of sustainable practices by tourism businesses. The key findings of the studyemphasize the role of the public sector in promoting bottom-up forms of governance,the temporal dynamics of the process, and the reality of innovation in policymaking. Key-words: sustainability, collaboration, local governance, policy. 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rightsreserved.

    Resume: La prise de decisions en collaboration: projets locaux durables. Lemergence desprojets locaux en collaboration offre beaucoup de potentiel pour lavancement dunecomprehension empirique et theorique de la gouvernance dans le domaine du tourisme.En particulier, on soule`ve de nouveaux proble`mes et defis associes a` la prise de decisions dansle tourisme, tels que lefficacite dans lorganisation, la representation et levaluation des resul-tats. Cet article evalue une collaboration adoptee par un conseil general britannique pourformuler une strategic locale pour promouvoir ladoption de pratiques durables par les entre-prises de tourisme. Les resultats principaux de letude mettent en valeur le role du secteurpublic dans la promotion des formes de gouvernement de bas en haut, la dynamique tempo-relle du processus et la realite de linnovation dans la prise de decisions. Mots-cles: durabilite,collaboration, gouvernement local, politique. 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


    A striking feature of contemporary tourism is the wealth of collabo-rative initiatives between local authorities, government agencies,Local Sustainable Projects

    Jon VernonNorth Devon and Exmoor Regeneration Company, UK325

  • and challenges, such as effective organization, representation, and

    326 COLLABORATIVE POLICYMAKINGevaluation of the efficacy of outcomes (Bramwell and Sharman 1999,2003). Whether the collaborative process improves the effectivenessand coordination of policies is a question that needs to be resolvedthrough empirical research (Goodwin 1998).

    The aim of this paper is to evaluate critically the efficacy of collabo-rative approaches to policymaking using the example of Caradon Dis-trict Council (Cornwall, UK) in the formulation of a local strategy forpromoting the adoption of sustainable practices by tourism businesses.It is argued that a forensic analysis of this case study raises broader les-sons about the potential for collaborative initiatives in the UK and else-where. The project involved the district council, the University ofPlymouth, South West Tourism, and the European Regional Develop-ment Fund through Caradon Area LEADER II (Liaison Entre Actions deDeveloppement de l Economic RuraleLinks between Actions for the devel-opment of the Rural Economy), who funded a three-year researchprogram into barriers affecting the adoption of sustainable tourism(19992001). The venture was further supported by a Small Grantsand Innovation Scheme, designed to encourage practical implementa-tion of the concept, and so to develop case studies of best practice.The findings of the research and the outcomes of the grant schemeswere used to inform a Sustainable Tourism Business Strategy, 20012006. This partnership, therefore, provided an opportunity to explorethe nature and operation of collaborative projects, the role ofacademic research in policymaking, the organization of multi-agencyapproaches, and their contribution to policy innovation.


    The implementation of sustainable development initiatives within thetourism industry over the last decade has been dominated by partner-ships and joint projects. This provides a rich vein for advancing thestudy of empirical and theoretical understanding of collaborative formsof governance. Sustainable tourism means addressing the problems ofenvironmental degradation caused by the volume of tourists, the re-source implications resulting from the operation of tourism-relatedbusinesses, such as transportation pressures and pollution, energyand water consumption, waste generation, purchasing strategies, andbusinesses, and host communities (Charlton and Essex 1996). Thesedevelopments are bound up with a more general shift from govern-ment, which imposes policies on target populations in a top-downmanner, to more inclusive forms of governance, based on bottom-up involvement with a range of different stakeholders. In tourism, col-laboration has arisen from the need to achieve broad-based support forpolicies within an industry that is diverse and fragmented. In theory,publicprivate collaborations should provide a democratizing andmore inclusive and equitable set of processes than conventional ap-proaches of planning, management, and government (Bramwell andLane 1999:2). In reality, such projects present many new problems

  • The emergence of collaborative policymaking across the globe is partof a broader shift in the role of the state from provider to enabler.

    VERNON, ESSEX, PINDER AND CURRY 327The public sectors traditional top-down, centralized and manageri-alist approach, in tourism, assumed responsibility for infrastructureprovision, planning control, marketing and promotion, and proactivedevelopment for the perceived public good. It has been replaced par-tially by a more bottom-up, decentralized and inclusive form of gov-ernance in which local communities and businesses are beingencouraged to take more responsibility for management (Hall 2000).The reasons for this shift include the neo-liberal critiques of state activ-ity, public expenditure cutbacks, and, to a certain extent, public disen-chantment with government policy (Bramwell and Lane 2000; Long1994). In the United Kingdom, the modernization of governmentand the introduction of best value reviews in the late 1990s have alsoforced wider re-evaluations of local authority service provision (Ben-nett 1999; Martin 2000; Geddes and Martin 2000). A new approachhas emerged which emphasizes efficiency, investment returns, the roleof the market, and increased participation by stakeholders. This newagenda has resulted in a restructuring of the roles of tourism organiza-tions, including a reduction in planning, policy, and developmentresponsibilities, an increase in marketing and promotion functions,and the operation of partnerships with stakeholders (Hall 2000).The centrality of collaboration and partnerships in rural and tourismdevelopment has also been expressed in recent policy statements atthe possible negative impacts on host communities. Successful imple-mentation of sustainable tourism requires cooperation by a wide rangeof different stakeholders (the public sector, accommodation busi-nesses, transport operators, attractions, restaurants, food suppliers, util-ity companies, host communities, and tourists). In the UnitedKingdom, as in other countries, the dominance of small- andmedium-sized enterprises within the industry, with limited knowledgeacquisition capabilities and modest financial resources, means thatcross-sectoral cooperation and networking is essential (Halme andFadeeva 2001:144). Indeed, the diverse and fragmented nature of thetourism industry has often acted as a barrier to the common interpreta-tion, widespread acceptance and adoption of sustainable practices(Berry and Ladkin 1997; Bramwell and Alletorp 2001; Carlson, Getzand Ali-Kinight 2001; Hobson and Essex 2001; Knowles, Macmillan, Pal-mer, Grabowski and Hashimoto 1999; Stabler and Goodall 1997;Welford, Ytterhus and Eligh 1999). Definitions of sustainable tourismare diverse, ranging from interpretations that accept a high level of hu-man responsibility for the environment, to those that primarily utilizethe concept as a marketing tool (Orams 1995). Therefore, sustainabletourism has to be holistic in its outlook in order to create a commonvision and produce strategies that recognize the contributions of allstakeholders (Bramwell and Lane 2000:1; Halme 2001:110).

    Theoretical Perspectives

  • 328 COLLABORATIVE POLICYMAKINGthe international and national level (for example, Department of theEnvironment, Transport and the Regions 1999, Para. 2.6; EnglishTourism Council 2001:17; Rural Europe 1996).

    Collaboration involves a number of stakeholders working interac-tively on a common issue or problem domain through a formalcross-sectoral approach. Typically, this process involves an exchangeof ideas and expertise and/or pooling of financial resources. Theproblem domain refers to a complex issue that cannot be solvedby a single agency acting on its own, but instead requires a multi-orga-nizational response. Stakeholders are the actors with an interest in acommon problem or issue (Jamal and Getz 1995:188). According tothe conceptual model framed by Gray (1989:236), the collaborationprocess involves four key characteristics: the stakeholders are indepen-dent; the process is emergent and constructive; there is joint ownershipof decisions; and the direction of the project is a collective responsibil-ity of the partners. By combining knowledge, expertise, and capital re-sources, such undertakings can produce consensus and creativesynergy, leading to new opportunities, innovative solutions, and agreater level of effectiveness that would not have been achieved bythe partners acting alone (Bramwell and Lane 2000:46).

    Collaborations and partnerships are not a homogenous form of gov-ernance, but consist of a diverse and complicated set of institutions,with different focuses, scales of operation, durations and histories,and patterns of sector representation and funding (Edwards, Goodwin,Pembleton and Woods 2000:10). Such projects can develop betweenthe public and private sector, among government agencies, and be-tween and within various different administrative levels and polities(Timothy 2000), as well as the voluntary sector and the community.According to Selin (1999, 2000), the diversity of collaborative arrange-ments can be demonstrated around five primary dimensions: geo-graphic scale, legal basis, locus of control, organizational diversityand size, and time frame. The numerous combinations of these dimen-sions demonstrate the potential and flexibility of collaborations inbuilding local capacity to address a range of problem domains.

    Theories about the collaborative process suggest that it is character-ized by three phases: first, problem-setting in which the nature ofthe challenge is identified; second, direction-setting in which somepolicy consensus is achieved; and, third, structuring which is con-cerned primarily with implementation and programming (Parker2000). The overall effectiveness will be determined by influences ateach of these phases and a number of studies have begun to use theoryand apply examples of practice to develop understanding in this area.Jamal and Getz (1995) have developed six propositions to guide theestablishment of successful initiatives. The propositions representpre-conditions for the implementation of a successful project andemphasize the importance of a shared vision, a mutual understandingof the interdependence of partners, the benefits to be derived, andthat the alliance has power and legitimacy.

    Bramwell and Sharman (1999) have developed these conceptualideas further by focusing on the factors that might affect the actual

  • VERNON, ESSEX, PINDER AND CURRY 329working of a collaborative venture. They have produced an analyticalframework for assessing the effectiveness of such projects based onideas about inter-organizational teamwork, communicative ap-proaches to planning, and citizen participation. The frameworkfocuses on three sets of issues relevant to evaluation, although thereis significant overlap and interdependence among them. The first setof issues relates to the scope of the collaboration, such as whetherthe range of participants was representative, whether membership in-cludes facilitators as well as implementers, and the general level of sup-port for the project. Incomplete representation, unequal powerrelations of stakeholders, or lack of accountability can weaken theeffectiveness of policies and initiatives. The creation of effective work-ing arrangements among partners who are unfamiliar with each otheror were previously adversaries can also be problematic.

    The second set of issues relates to the intensity of collaboration,including the nature and frequency of involvement, the flow of informa-tion, the extent of mutual understanding, respect and learning involvedamong the stakeholders, and the development of new approaches. Theshort-term nature and tight financial constraints of most projects, to-gether with their focus on achieving tangible outputs, can detract fromthe task of consolidating relationships among partners, undertaking fullconsultation and achieving consensus (Edwards et al 2000:46). The con-stant search for funding to sustain the project can lead to tensions, suchas the need to demonstrate innovation to secure new funding againstthe need to maintain and consolidate existing activities (Charlton1998).

    The third set of issues focuses on the degree to which consensusamong stakeholders emerges over the form, implementation, andassessment of policies. The views of strong voices can often preventalternative perspectives, held by weaker or even unarticulated posi-tions, from being aired (Mason, Johnston and Twynam 2000). Timeconstraints often allow only a partial consensus to be reachedamong interested parties (Bramwell and Sharman 1999). Empirical les-sons from the operation of six tourism networks in four Europeancountries recognized that, when public sector agencies dominate col-laborations to promote sustainable development, they often adopt adidactic approach to information dissemination (Halme 2001). Trans-formational outcomes at the network level can be better achievedthrough hands-on practical activities at the level of individual busi-nesses and through events that incorporate two-way communicationand foster real cooperation. Long-term initiatives that promote pro-jects of modest size and produce visible and tangible outcomes are alsomore likely to achieve progress than short-term schemes, which aremore likely to breed frustration about the possibilities of sustainabledevelopment at the local level (Halme 2001).

    An additional set of conceptual issues may be developed to augmentBramwell and Sharmans framework. These concern the implementa-tion of policies resulting from collaboration and whether the processimproves the effectiveness and coordination of policies. The outcomesof joint projects are not always readily demonstrated. The First Stop

  • 330 COLLABORATIVE POLICYMAKINGIdentification of the Problem Domain

    Caradon is the most easterly of Cornwalls six districts. Its mainindustries of agriculture, fishing, and defense have been contractingin recent decades, thereby increasing its dependence on tourism(Caradon District Council 1997). There are approximately 450 tour-ism-related businesses (comprising hotels, guest houses, holiday cot-tages, camping and caravan parks, and small attractions) which caterfor about 670,000 tourists (Tourism Research Group 2000) and pro-vide jobs for about 12% of the working population. Caradon attractstourists because of its high-quality environment, including its coastline,beaches, moorland, deep wooded valleys, and small towns and villages.The natural landscape is diverse and of high conservation value, pro-tected by UK statutory designations, such as Areas of Outstanding Nat-ural Beauty and Heritage Coasts.

    The district council recognizes the importance of environmentalprotection for sustaining the tourism industry and has initiated a num-ber of projects, albeit following national strategies, to encourage moresustainable forms of tourism (Figure 1). Over the last 10 years, thecouncil has gained a reputation both in the UK and more widely inEurope as a leading exponent of sustainable tourism (Atlantic Consul-tants 2001). Between 1991 and 1996, Caradon ran Project Explore, apilot green tourism initiative funded jointly by Cornwall CountyCouncil, the English Tourist Board, and the Countryside Commission.York Partnership (19951998) was an initiative to maximize the eco-nomic and employment advantages of tourism in the city for the ben-efit of businesses, employees, residents, and tourists. The partnershipseffectiveness in product development, marketing, tourism manage-ment, and training was difficult to disentangle from the more generalmarket shifts (Augustyn and Knowles 2000). Tangible outcomes of theDevon and Cornwall Rail Partnership, in terms of evidence that dem-onstrates the increased use of branch lines, the reduction in car use,and the benefits for rural development, has also proved difficult to ver-ify (Charlton 1998; Pinder 1998).

    Case study evidence is thus beginning to inform an evolving body oftheory of collaboration, a set of criteria for assessing the effectivenessof collaborative projects and practical guides for their initiation andmanagement. The effectiveness of these approaches in tourism man-agement is clearly a developing area of research. Key research issues in-clude organization, extent of participation by potential stakeholders,and efficacy of outcomes (Moseley 2003). Existing research generallysuggests that the public sector remains dominant in the initiation,organization, and resourcing of such activity. Collaboration, ratherthan being a new form of governance, could be interpreted as an alter-native means for the public sector to discharge its responsibilities (Ed-wards et al 2000:45). Therefore, such projects might be betterdescribed as local top-down forms of governance rather than beingtruly bottom-up.

  • VERNON, ESSEX, PINDER AND CURRY 331Its aim was to strike and maintain a balance among tourism, local com-munities, and the natural environment. The main outcomes were en-hanced information and interpretation of the local environment,improved access to the local countryside, and a heightened responsibil-ity for the environment among local businesses. Some key aspects ofthis project have become permanent features of the district councilsoperation, such as the Caradon Countryside Service and the DiscoveryVisitor Centre in Looe.

    Attempts to encourage local tourism businesses to review the environ-mental impact of their own operations through promotion of the na-tional Green Audit Kit (the preferred tool to encourage theadoption of sustainable practices among businesses within the EnglishTourism Council strategy) followed between 1996 and 1998 (EnglishTourism Council 2000; Rural Development Commission 1993). To

    Figure 1. Partnerships Established by Caradon District Council (19912001)

  • The emergence of collaboration among potential partners was led bythe district council and driven largely by available expertise and fund-

    332 COLLABORATIVE POLICYMAKINGing opportunities. The University of Plymouth represented a potentialpartner because of its research expertise, its mission to serve the re-gion, and the availability of research funding at the time for joint pro-jects with external agencies. The aims of the Caradon Area LEADER IIinitiative (199599), established as an experimental rural developmentprogram, closely matched those of the district council and also pro-vided a funding source through the European Regional DevelopmentFund. This European source provided matched funding for any re-sources set aside by the council or the University in cash or kind.South West Tourism had established sustainable tourism as a long-termobjective and possessed important contacts with the industry within theregion. Therefore, the identification of partners emerged through aprocess of rational serendipity rather than conforming to a theoryof the ideal composition of associates. The project required approvalfrom the Government Office of the South West, because of EuropeanUnion funding. Approval was eventually given and operated from Jan-uary, 1999 to December, 2001. The objectives of the collaboration wereto gauge the potential of tourism-related businesses to adopt environ-mentally sustainable practices; to identify the barriers to the adoption;and to inform the development of an actionable strategy. The projecthad two main elements: a research element to provide a better under-standing of the barriers and opportunities of sustainable tourism and afacilitate the adoption of the Green Audit Kit in Caradon, a localgreen business organization, SUSTAIN, was established. The pur-pose of this group was to act as a self-sustaining support network ofadvisors in order to reduce costs while improving the environmentalsustainability of the industry (SUSTAIN 1997). It held regular meet-ings, encouraged the adoption of sustainable practices among individ-ual members, and initiated a number of projects. These include, forexample, waste recycling, a Hoppa public bus service between Looeand attractions in the area, a tree-planting program, and a reed bedsystem for grey water treatment.

    However, by early 1998, the implementation of the Green Audit Kitthrough the SUSTAIN Network had reached a ceiling, with a member-ship of only about 16 businesses. The district council recognized thatmore information about the barriers affecting businesses adoptionof the Kit, and sustainable practices in general, was needed to informfuture practice and strategy. Halme (2001:110) suggests that differ-ences in the knowledge base and decisionmaking process of relevantpublicprivate partners in sustainable tourism networks often act as abarrier to effective implementation. A research project to understandthese barriers from the perspective of the businesses was a serious at-tempt to advance the implementation of sustainable tourism in thelocal area and overcome a problem domain.

    Scope of the Collaboration

  • VERNON, ESSEX, PINDER AND CURRY 333grants scheme to explore the practical realities of implementing rele-vant initiatives.

    In order to undertake the research element, a university-based re-search officer was appointed, and other academic staff assisted in thepreparation of reports to the sponsors via the forum of a steeringgroup. A three-phase tiered design was devised: focus groups (MaySeptember, 1999), a districtwide questionnaire survey of tourism busi-nesses (AprilSeptember, 2000), and indepth face-to-face interviews(JanuaryApril, 2001). The results of this research are detailed else-where (Vernon 2000, 2001a, 2001b; Vernon, Essex, Pinder and Curry2003). The Small Grants and Innovation Scheme, funded by the Euro-pean Regional Development Fund through Caradon Area LEADER II,was established by the partners to fund innovative actions by businessesthat sought to overcome identified barriers to sustainability (20002001).

    On the basis of the research projects outputs and experience withthe grant scheme, a strategy of sustainable tourism was formulated,which involved consultation with the local industry (AprilMay2001). A newsletter outlining the main findings of the research andpolicy proposals was sent to all tourism-related businesses in the districtand feedback was encouraged. In addition, businesses were invited to aconsultation meeting where the research results and possible policyimplications were discussed and agreed. Thereafter, the strategy waslaunched as part of the councils new tourism policy at a one-day con-ference in March, 2002 (Caradon District Council 2002). At this stage,wider consultation with other possible partners (such as electricity, gas,and water companies) was undertaken to discuss longer-term initiativesto promote sustainable tourism. The project represented an innovativecollaboration, albeit of public sector agencies, led by the district coun-cil and driven by indepth academic research over a three-year period toformulate a strategy for the adoption of sustainable practices by tour-ism businesses.

    Following Grays (1989) framework, the collaboration consisted ofindependent partners, a constructive process and, through the steeringgroup, joint ownership of decisions, collective responsibility, as well aspower and legitimacy. Where the project did not conform to Graysideal was that the process was not especially emergent, as the researchand grant scheme elements had to be specified in the bid for EuropeanUnion funding. Moreover, while the partners possessed a shared visionof the potential benefits, their interests reflected slightly different per-spectives, whether these were environmental (Caradon District Coun-cil), rural development (Caradon Area LEADER II), industrycompetitiveness (Caradon District Council and Southwest Tourism),or research (University of Plymouth). According to Selins (1999,2000) typology of tourism partnerships, this undertaking can be classi-fied as a short-term, regionally-based, agency controlled and homo-genous project. As such, it is placed in the lower levels of thecollaboration continuum for locus of control, organizational diversityand size, and timeframe. Bramwell and Sharmans conceptual frame-work (1999) is used as the basis for its critique.

  • 334 COLLABORATIVE POLICYMAKINGIntensity of Collaboration

    As a mechanism for monitoring and guiding the research, a steer-ing group, with its membership drawn from the sponsors, was estab-lished. It provided a forum for the exchange of ideas and expertiseconcerning the implementation of sustainable tourism in the district.Caradon District Council was represented by its sustainable tourismofficer, the local councilor who chaired the Countryside Committee,and the Local Agenda 21 officer. The university members comprisedthe research officer and two other members of staff (one of the latteracting as chair of meetings). Other members of the steering grouprepresented South West Tourism and Caradon Area LEADER II.The steering group held plenary meetings on 12 occasions over theprojects three-year life. These guided the research and utilized theimplications of the results in the formulation of the Action Plan. Inaddition, there were numerous other meetings involving sections ofthe membership designed to focus on single issues. These smallermeetings considered the grant applications made to the small grantsscheme, the details of the consultation exercise with the local indus-try, and the formulation of the Action Plan. The steering group andthe collaborative structure enabled the research, within its framework,to continually focus on the needs of the sponsors and provided built-in flexibility to explore aspects of emerging importance. The processensured that data collected by the researcher was relevant to the spe-cific needs of the sponsors in helping to shape and implementpolicies.

    However, the collaborative nature of the research program also pre-sented a number of problems. Most significantly, the project requiredthe researcher to move beyond the role of impartial observer to that ofconsultant in the development of an actionable strategy. Although alogical extension of the research process, this role risked compromis-ing the impartiality of the researchers position, and involvement inthis process was thus not disclosed to business owners in case it mightinfluence responses. Additionally, development of the strategy actionplan involved other university staff and only commenced once themain elements of fieldwork had been completed. The role of the steer-ing group in influencing the research also had to be managed care-fully. At one point, the sponsors, perhaps enthused by the potentialof research, or as a reflection of the inexperience of members in col-laborative projects, suggested a dramatic deviation from the originalbrief to consider demand-side issues in terms of tourist demand for sus-tainable development. After discussion, it was agreed that this subjectwas sufficiently important to justify a separate study. Other issues re-lated to the scope of the research. The study was limited to those as-pects of interest to the sponsors, namely the problems encounteredby tourism businesses in the district. As a consequence, there was littleappetite to consider the district councils own response to the conceptof sustainable tourism, its ability to act as change agent to encouragethe adoption of sustainable business practices, or the comparative re-sponse of businesses within other districts.

  • VERNON, ESSEX, PINDER AND CURRY 335Achieving Consensus

    The most obvious flaw in the collaboration was that the steeringgroup was drawn exclusively from public sector organizations,reflecting the willingness of these agencies to contribute funding.There was no direct representation of business groups or organizationsthat might have contributed a different perspective to discussions andadvice. This issue was recognized and discussed at the first meeting ofthe steering group. It was suggested that representatives from the localtourism association, South East Cornwall Tourism Association, mighthave been helpful in this capacity. Yet, given the existence of othertrade organizations in the area, there would have been no guaranteethat the views of this particular association would have reflected the fullrange of tourism businesses in the district. It was felt that any businessinvolvement in the steering group might potentially be biased towardsone particular industry sector. As the views of businesses were the cen-tral focus of the research itself, opportunities were given for participa-tion in the various data collection stages, as well as during theconsultation phase. In this case, the democratization of decisionmak-ing was to be achieved through the research and consultation stages.This issue illustrates the practical difficulties of realizing the idealsarticulated in theories of collaboration.

    Two further realities concerning the participation of businesses inthis process became apparent. First, despite efforts to ensure full andrepresentative participation, involvement by businesses in the researchwas self-selecting. One important consequence of this issue is that theresearch results were potentially biased towards those businesses withan existing interest in, or commitment to, the environment and sus-tainability. A total of 197 businesses completed the questionnaire(from a total population of 451). This response rate was only achievedafter two letters of reminder (the initial request produced 51% of theresponses while two batches of reminders produced the remaining49%). There was also very low attendance from businesses at consulta-tion meetings. This issue suggests a level of apathy, or at least other de-mands on their time, among a large proportion of businesses that maybe difficult to overcome. Previous research into participatory ventureshas found similar problems of representation (Mason, Johnston andTwynam 2000). These practical difficulties again show that the idealsof the models are not easily achieved. Engaging the private sector effec-tively in collaborative projects remains a key challenge in future initia-tives. The importance of giving adequate publicity to the differentstages of the research may have been underestimated when the initia-tive was being established. A higher profile public relations campaignmight have encouraged more participation in the consultation andwould appear to be an essential element.

    Second, the results of the research reveal that the attitude of busi-nesses towards environmental sustainability was at some variance withthe environmental commitment demonstrated by the main partners.Throughout the research, the unwillingness of businesses to acceptresponsibility for the environmental consequences of tourism, and

  • the dependence of businesses on the public sector for support withsuch initiatives, was obvious. From the focus group discussions, manybusinesses distanced themselves from the impact of their business onthe environment, especially if other agencies had responsibility for thatparticular environmental concern. Issues such as water pollution andwildlife conservation were, for example, seen as the responsibilitiesof statutory bodies. This attitude also extended to the local town andcountry planners who, as legally-sanctioned guardians of developmentcontrol and design, have sole responsibility to protect the environmentby upholding and implementing planning regulations. Exploiting theplanning rules by businesses was considered to be acceptable commer-cial practice.

    The interest of many businesses in the small grants and innovationsscheme, which was established to encourage the introduction of sustain-able practices, was often speculative and opportunistic. A total of 61applications were received from local businesses for projects that theapplicants felt were environmentally sustainable (Table 1). The rela-tively high expressions of interest for developments involving touristinterpretation (29%), improved facilities (20%) and landscaping(11%) suggested that the understanding of sustainable tourism andits relevance to business by many operators remained relatively narrow.Proposals with greater potential environmental benefits, such as waterconservation and public transport initiatives, were less well represented.This feature is perhaps understandable given that the implementationof sustainability is beyond the influence of a single operator. A total of

    336 COLLABORATIVE POLICYMAKINGTable 1. Decisions and Outcomes on Applications to the Small Grant Schemea

    Type of project Applications Rejected Potential,but not granted

    Granted Completed

    Recycling 8 0 5 3 3Energy Conservation 9 4 3 2 1Water Conservation 4 0 2 2 1Landscaping/


    7 3 4 0 0

    Improved facilities forthe business and/or customers

    12 9 1 2 1

    Marketing 1 0 1 0 0Tourist Interpretation

    and information18 8 7 3 3

    Public transport initiative 1 0 0 1 0Mixed project 1 0 1 0 0Total 61 24 26 13 10

    Source: Caradon Countryside Services, Grant Scheme application forms.a Figures refer to actual number of applications (January 2000).

  • VERNON, ESSEX, PINDER AND CURRY 33724 applications were excluded on the grounds of being irrelevant ordamaging to the environment.

    At the same time, businesses expressed a dependency on the publicsector over the introduction of sustainable practices, especially throughfinancial support and the provision of recycling infrastructure. It is sig-nificant that when the council removed support for the SUSTAIN Net-work, it ceased operating within a year. Even the most environmentallymotivated members of the group showed a high dependence on thepublic sector for leadership and direction. The lack of recycling infra-structure for businesses in the Caradon District was highlighted in thequestionnaire results as the single most important barrier to the adop-tion of sustainable practices. Many businesses used the recycling facil-ities for household waste provided by council on an expedient, butillegal, basis. All these indications suggest that the private sector takesa very particular position to sustainable tourism, namely a lack of inter-est and limited understanding of their potential responsibility for thelocal environment, together with a dependence on the public sectorfor leadership.

    The operation of the steering group over three years also raises is-sues about the truly collaborative aspects of the project. While atten-dance at meetings by all the sponsors was good, pressures of timeoften limited the consideration that they could give to the implicationsof the results, particularly at the policy formulation and implementa-tion stage. Members of the committee had taken on their role for theirrespective organizations as an extra duty within already busy schedules.Due to the ongoing nature of the research, members usually receiveddetails of results for discussion a few days before the next meeting or,on some occasions, actually at the meetings. Full consideration of theimplications was therefore unrealistic, especially as definite statementsor commitments could not be made without reference back to the rel-evant line managers in the various organizations. As a result, and by de-fault, unequal power relations began to develop towards the end of theprojects limited life, although this aspect is a reflection of the dynamicnature of collaborative ventures. For example, the formulation of theAction Plan was left largely to the university and district council to draftand finalize. Partners in collaborative projects appear to have differentroles, which might be summarized as supporters, providing contactsand legitimacy; active members, undertaking preparatory work; andfacilitators, who are responsible for the organization, as well as theimplementation, of proposed policies.

    Despite the homogenous nature of the steering group, there were in-stances where disagreements between the members were apparent.The evaluation of the applications for the small grants and innovationsscheme by the steering group was not without some discussion overenvironmental merits and transferability. Some partners attachedmuch greater priority to those projects providing tourist interpretationand improved facilities. While these schemes might raise the profile ofsustainable tourism among tourists, they were considered by other part-ners to be insufficiently distinct from long-established forms of man-agement and as failing to contribute to resource conservation.

  • Therefore, the process, involved compromise and negotiation to bal-ance the priorities of all partners. The conflicting goals and differentexpectations of stakeholders are a common feature of sustainable tour-ism partnerships (Halme and Fadeeva 2001:160).


    Despite the recognized weaknesses in the process, Caradon DistrictCouncil (2002) has formulated a strategy to encourage the implemen-tation of sustainable practices by businesses in the district over the per-iod 20012006. The purpose of the strategy is to act upon the findingsand priorities established in the research; to encourage active partici-pation and partnership from a range of other national, regional, andlocal agencies and stakeholders; and to attract funding to supportthe proposed policies (Table 2). The strategy has received strongexpressions of interest from the private sector and has already led tothe introduction of new approaches to supporting sustainable tourismin the public sector.

    The need to establish an infrastructure for recycling by businesses inthe district was established as a key priority of the strategy. Many busi-nesses participated in the recycling of waste and perceived it to be a

    Table 2. Summary of the Councils Sustainable Tourism Strategy (20012006)

    Objective A: Infrastructure for Business Waste RecyclingTo establish a districtwide infrastructure for business waste recycling, which was considered

    tourism within the region and district.

    Objective G: Further Research

    338 COLLABORATIVE POLICYMAKINGTo monitor the effectiveness of the Action Plan and identify areas of further research toassist the extension of adoption.

    Source: Caradon District Council (2002).to be the main sustainability issue by tourism-related businesses in the district.

    Objective B: CommunicationTo provide information on sustainable tourism practices to businesses so that all interest

    groups understand the options and potential benefits.

    Objective C: SupportTo provide flexible advice and support on sustainable tourism to meet the varied and

    changing needs of tourism-related businesses.

    Objective D: Environmental ReviewTo facilitate systematic environmental reviews of tourism-related businesses. Such reviews

    have been shown to act as an important prompt to the adoption of sustainable practices.

    Objective E: Financial SupportTo provide financial support for tourism-related businesses wishing to adopt sustainable

    tourism practices and help overcome one of the main barriers to adoption.

    Objective F: Wider Cooperation and Coordinated ActionTo establish wider cooperation and involvement in facilitating the adoption of sustainable

  • VERNON, ESSEX, PINDER AND CURRY 339core activity of sustainable tourism. Under these regulations, com-mercial waste must be collected and disposed of by specialist contrac-tors, separate from household waste. No infrastructure is providedfor the collection of the small amounts of recyclable waste producedby the small businesses that make up the bulk of the tourism industryin the district. Therefore, many businesses use the household recyclingfacilities provided by the council on an expedient, but illegal, basis.The need to introduce recycling facilities and collections for businessesappeared to be a priority as it potentially threatened the existing inter-est and practice of recycling and may inhibit the adoption of other sus-tainable practices. The proposal to create a districtwide infrastructurefor business waste recycling would thus capitalize on existing interestsin sustainable practices and stimulate action and initiatives in relatedareas. In fact, without a business waste-recycling infrastructure, it wouldbe difficult to encourage other sustainable practices among local tour-ism-related businesses.

    However, provision of waste management facilities was the responsi-bility of another council department and outside the direct influenceof the sustainable tourism officer. The issue then became subject towider council considerations, such as whether such a service couldbe economically viable. The councils public services unit has begunto introduce a business waste collection service, and represents a posi-tive outcome of collaboration in encouraging more holistic approachesin the public sector that go beyond strict departmental boundaries. Inaddition, the findings and actions of this project may be relevant toother parts of the United Kingdom and perhaps in overseas contexts,and so reveal opportunities for cross-boundary cooperation and solu-tions. Some indication of growing support for sustainability issues fromwithin the industry was evident at the launch of the strategy in March,2002. There was a suggestion made by local businesses that they mightbe willing to contribute to the costs of a dedicated officer to provideadvice on sustainable practices.

    The implementation and effectiveness of the proposed strategy will,of course, raise additional barriers to achieving the goal of sustainabletourism within the district. The first barrier is attracting financial sup-port. Caradon district is fortunate in that it has European UnionObjective 1 status within Cornwall, which provides matched fundingfor economic regeneration and improvements to the quality of life.This scheme includes sustainable development as one of the cross-cutting themes (Objective One Partnership for Cornwall and Scilly2001:5). However, only individual businesses are permitted to applyto it for direct funding. Public sector bids have to be coordinatedthrough Integrated Area Plans, imposing another layer of approval.A critical factor in the success of the sustainable tourism strategy, how-ever, will be to evidence the districtwide economic benefits of adoptingsustainable practices, since these are crucial to attract further fundingsupport irrespective of source.

    Subsumed within the problems of funding is a second barrier,namely, achieving consensus among the service providers and otherrelevant stakeholders in the region. The council has already expressed

  • operate are not always useful as a guide to how they proceed in prac-tice. As a result, this local study can inform the development of theory

    340 COLLABORATIVE POLICYMAKINGon collaboration, which might be tested in future research on projectsin other parts of the world.

    The contribution of this study to a critique of the existing body oftheory on the collaborative process is four-fold. First, the processemphasizes the importance of the public sectors leadership role inproviding strategic direction and facilitating innovations within a frag-mented industry that might otherwise be unable to respond to increas-ing environmental priorities for various internal and external reasons.This point confirms Jamal and Getzs (1995) observations about thecritical role of a convener to initiate and facilitate collaboration. Thecentral role of the public sector in such projects provides justificationfor its dominance in the initiation, organization and resourcing of suchactivities. This recognition is contrary to the Edwards et al (2000) viewthat collaborations are simply an alternative means for the public sec-tor to discharge its responsibilities and to have a definite role and clearpurpose in this area of intervention. However, the step towards moreinclusive forms of decisionmaking and governance over the implemen-concern about implementing some of the recommended policies iden-tified from the research on the basis of longterm cost or staffing impli-cations. Other public services operating in a regional context mighthave similar concerns. Although the steering group was not expectedto continue beyond the lifetime of the research project, its role in shar-ing ideas and expertise might be a valuable feature of the policy imple-mentation stage. The group would be especially valuable in gaugingthe effectiveness of the measures introduced as well as maintainingthe momentum gained over the three years of the collaboration. Thestrategy of increasing the environmental responsibility of businessesin the district, together with regional and national initiatives, is a long-term initiative that will slowly alter the outlook of the industry for thebenefit of the local economy and community, as well as the environ-ment. The problem of maintaining funding represents an importantbarrier to overcome. Short-term projects have a tendency to producefragmentary results and breed frustration within businesses about thepossibilities of sustainable development (Halme 2001:113).


    This collaborative project was established to identify barriers affect-ing the implementation of sustainable tourism practices and to formu-late a strategy to advance their adoption by businesses. It possessed allthe hallmarks of similar initiatives in that it was set up by, and involvedcooperation among, various independent public sector agencies on alimited-life project of three years. Where the collaboration differedfrom other ventures was in the pivotal role of academic research,involving the local university, which provided direction for the outputsover an extended period of time. A critical evaluation of its operationsuggests that conceptual expectations of how collaborations should

  • VERNON, ESSEX, PINDER AND CURRY 341tation of sustainable tourism cannot be achieved until the private sec-tor can be convinced of the potential benefits of accepting moreresponsibility for the environment. Indeed, such a defined and justi-fied role for the public sector in this field might also further negatethe industrys own willingness to accept responsibility for the environ-ment and jeopardize participation in future ventures. This issue repre-sents the challenge of the governance approach in shifting the outlookof businesses from a dependency culture to one of self-reliance (Halmeand Fadeeva 2001).

    Second, the task of securing equal levels of input and participationin collaborations is difficult. Ability and willingness to contribute finan-cially to such projects are often central to determining membership. Inthis case, the unwillingness of businesses to share responsibility andpower was critical to the outcomes. The issue here may be related moreto general apathy among a large proportion of businesses towards envi-ronmental sustainability, which may be difficult to overcome, whateverpolicies or initiatives are introduced. These problems of creating inter-est and a sense of urgency are not uncommon in the formulation ofpublic sector policy. The importance of a sustained public relationscampaign over the period of a project to improve the profile andawareness of the objectives of the collaboration with the business com-munity cannot be underestimated.

    Third, the project demonstrated that the role of partners does notremain static over its lifetime, but will diminish and grow in relationto the ability of the different stakeholders to influence the tasks beingfaced, whether that is influenced inturn by expertise, finance, or com-mitment. Indeed, it should be recognized that the roles of the variedcollaborators can be very different and do not necessarily require totalcommitment all of the time. Some partners are more active in under-taking preparatory work and policy formulation/implementation,while others are more supportive in providing contacts and legitimacy,or facilitating the organization. These roles will shift over time. Thistemporal dimension to collaborations adds another layer of complexityto the criteria for evaluating joint projects.

    Fourth, despite some imperfections in the collaborative process, theend result of the project enabled the public sector to develop innova-tive and worthwhile approaches to advancing the implementation ofsustainable tourism, as suggested by Bramwell and Lane (2000). Thepolicies formulated were realistic for operating within extant modelsof economy-environment relations rather than radically challengingor transforming the status quo. Cross-departmental and cross-districtinitiatives have been emphasized, especially in the encouragement ofbusiness waste recycling. Old departmental boundaries and divideswithin the district council have been questioned and new opportunitiesfor more holistic service provision have been recognized both withinand beyond the area of local government boundaries. Informationand support that are more sensitive to the needs of the industry havealso been targeted. The scheme demonstrated the importance of hav-ing relatively small amounts of money available to businesses to encour-age them to implement sustainable projects. It highlighted some

  • additional practical barriers to achieving sustainability that might be

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    Collaborative policymakingIntroductionCollaborative partnershipsTheoretical PerspectivesIdentification of the ldquo Problem Domain rdquo Scope of the CollaborationIntensity of CollaborationAchieving ConsensusImplementation