Research Papers: William D. Leach

Diversity, Trust, and Social Learning in Collaborative Governance

By Jangmin Kim, Saba Siddiki, William D. Leach

Public Administration Review


Scholarship on collaborative governance identifies several structural and procedural factors that consistently influence governance outcomes. A promising next step for collaborative governance research is to explore how these factors interact. Focusing on two dimensions of social learning—relational and cognitive—as outcomes of collaboration, this article examines potential interacting effects of participant diversity and trust. The empirical setting entails 10 collaborative partnerships in the United States that provide advice on marine aquaculture policy. The findings indicate that diversity in beliefs among participants is positively related to relational learning, whereas diversity in participants’ affiliations is negatively related to relational learning, and high trust bolsters the positive effects of belief diversity on both relational and cognitive learning. In addition, high trust dampens the negative effects of affiliation diversity on relational learning. A more nuanced understanding of diversity in collaborative governance has practical implications for the design and facilitation of diverse stakeholder groups.

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