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Watershed management -- Government policy -- Oregon, Watershed management -- Oregon, Natural resources management -- Oregon, Public administration -- Oregon


The public sector, business professionals and organization leaders are among some of the diverse entities increasingly viewing collaboration as a useful, and at times necessary, practice. Collaborative systems are networks formed by individuals who repeatedly interact over long time horizons to solve problems and achieve goals they could not on their own. Throughout the academic literature, there are many references to and definitions of collaborative systems or networks, as well as various opinions on what factors enable these systems to be successful. However, these are usually context-specific or limited to the perspective of a certain discipline. Furthermore, empirical literature usually hones in on collaborative projects; networks working together within a predetermined timeframe and towards a specific desired outcome.

This research had two objectives. The first was to identify the common factors effecting collaborative performance and possible collaboration benefits from the various academic disciplines and use them to develop a construct for collaborative systems. The project then utilized the rich history of Oregon’s watershed councils as a case study and applied this construct to their boards as they represent a diverse set of collaborative groups that have been in operation for over twenty years. This research measured the identified factors effecting collaborative performance and compared them to the benefits received through a combination of survey questions and outside research, resulting in averaged “factor” and “benefit” scores across all responses as well as for four case study watershed councils. The final step was to use regression analysis to understand the relationship between the factors and collaboration benefits

This research developed and tested a construct for collaborative systems by identifying commonly cited factors across varied academic disciples. Through application to Oregon’s watershed councils, this research acquired preliminary data in order to identify the positive relationship between factors and benefits. In addition, it identified opportunities for enhancing watershed council collaborative performance by ranking these factor scores. Further research is needed to expand the application of these findings, as well as to test these factors in other collaborative systems.


A product of the National Policy Consensus Center, part of the Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University.

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