In recent years, collaborative governance has been used as an innovative approach by government, NGOs, and business for consensus building in the process of policy making and service delivery (Ansell and Gash, 2008, Brown et al., 2006). However, little has been written on the psychological aspects of collaborative governance. What are the antecedents of collaborative decisions? To what extent and in what ways can NGOs’ advocacy impact community residents’ opinions? For example, in the field of environmental protection, the conflict between environmental conservation and economic development has been a key issue, which presents a fundamental challenge to the formation of collaborative environmental governance. Environmental NGOs have used educational approaches to influence key stakeholders; but it remains an intriguing issue as in what ways and to what extent their educational efforts have impacted these stakeholders. To answer these questions, we explored the attitudinal antecedents of collaborative governance by conducting an experimental study on the effects of environmental education in rural China. Specifically, we focus on two types of environmental education programs: Environmental Education (EE) and Education for Sustainability (ESD). While EE focuses on providing scientific education in raising environmental awareness, ESD incorporates economic, social, and environmental factors to bring about solutions to achieve sustainability. We found that ESD is more effective in stimulating attitudinal changes towards environmental conservation, and EE is more powerful in generating a hidden effect: the anti-development attitude, among participants in China. We also studied the moderating effects of economic pressure, place attachment, and we found that being poor and being nonlocal may strengthen a participant’s likelihood to develop attitudinal changes towards economic development. Overall, our research contributes to a better understanding of the psychological aspects of collaborative governance, and it calls a more balanced approach in environmental education.
Lianne Lam, J.J. Po-An Hsieh, and Zhan Xueyong, “An Experimental Study on the Effects of Environmental Education in China,” Workshop on Public Management Research in East and Southeast Asia, the 12th Public Management Research Conference, Madison, Wisconsin, USA, June 20-22, 2013.