Implementing Innovation

Fostering Enduring Change in Environmental and Natural Resource Governance

Toddi A. Steelman

"A wonderfully practical, thoroughly analyzed, and simply written and presented story that anyone wanting to improve environmental practice should read with interest and care."
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Over the past three decades, governments at the local, state, and federal levels have undertaken a wide range of bold innovations, often in partnership with nongovernmental organizations and communities, to try to address their environmental and natural resource management tasks. Many of these efforts have failed. Innovations, by definition, are transitory. How, then, can we establish new practices that endure?

Toddi A. Steelman argues that the key to successful and long-lasting innovation must be a realistic understanding of the challenges that face it. She examines three case studies—land management in Colorado, watershed management in West Virginia, and timber management in New Mexico—and reveals specific patterns of implementation success and failure. Steelman challenges conventional wisdom about the role of individual entrepreneurs in innovative practice. She highlights the institutional obstacles that impede innovation and its longer term implementation, while offering practical insight in how enduring change might be achieved.

Table of Contents


1. Innovation, Implementation, and Institutions

2. The Evolution of the Environmental and Natural Resource Governance: Land, Water, and Forests

3. Aligning Institutional Characteristics: Implementing Innovation in Land Protection

4. Intermittent Alignment of Institutional Characteristics: Implementing Innovation in Watershed Management

5. Misalignment of Institutional Characteristics: Implementing Innovation in Forest Management

6. Fostering Enduring Change



"Implementing Innovation brings a fresh perspective to a long-standing debate in the environmental policy field about how best to foster creative, collaborative approaches to environmental protection. Because of its careful attention to detail, vibrant case studies, and an accessible conceptual framework, students and practitioners alike will find this book a very worthwhile read."—Denise L. Scheberle, Herbert Fisk Johnson Professor in Environmental Studies and chair, Department of Public and Environmental Affairs, University of Wisconsin–Green Bay

"A wonderfully practical, thoroughly analyzed, and simply written and presented story that anyone wanting to improve environmental practice should read with interest and care."—Garry Brewer, Frederick K. Weyerhaeuser Professor of Resource Policy and Management, School of Management, Yale University

"Using institutional analysis to great advantage, Steelman deftly brings her recognized expertise in environmental issues to a more generalized appreciation of how public policies are articulated and executed. In doing so, she has appealed to both the public policy and public management communities."—Peter deLeon, professor of public policy, School of Public Administration, University of Colorado Denver

"Steelman takes us to the next level in the study of innovative environmental practices. We know much about the promise of innovation, the barriers to innovation, and increasingly the performance of innovative practices. Steelman convincingly argues that we must now address the long-term sustainability of innovations. This book provides a clever yet simple way for academics and practitioners to think about the crucial role of institutions in sustaining innovative practices for managing natural resources and the environment."—Craig Thomas, associate professor of public affairs, Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs, University of Washington

"Some innovations are thriving many years after their inception; others, despite initial success, prove to be unsustainable. Steelman, using three fascinating and well-executed case studies, provides a convincing explanation why."—Sandford Borins, professor of strategic management, University of Toronto and research fellow, Harvard Kennedy School


Supplemental Materials


About the Author

Toddi A. Steelman is an associate professor in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources at North Carolina State University. She is coauthor of Adaptive Governance: Integrating Science, Policy, and Decision Making and Collaborative Environmental Management: What Roles for Government?

224 pp., 6 x 9

Apr 2010

224 pp., 6 x 9

ISBN: 978-1-58901-627-9
Apr 2010

224 pp.

ISBN: 978-1-58901-670-5
Apr 2010

Public Management and Change series
Beryl A. Radin, Series Editor

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