I am a political scientist and a human geographer who studies comparative public policy using cases from environmental studies (water, solid waste, hazardous waste, wastewater) to analyse cooperative models of resource governance. I work in a department of public administration, and as a result, my interdisciplinary training comes handy when studying the spatial, political and human dimensions of public service delivery.
The Research Questions that Drive my Work
My research explores questions of multilevel and networked governance through cooperative approaches. Using a multidisciplinary analytical approach that borrows from the sociological, urban studies, planning, anthropological and political/policy sciences’ literatures, I examine new models of governing. My work probes these new, non-hierarchical models of governing through the analysis of a variety of case studies from the environmental field (specifically water, solid waste and hazardous/toxic waste). My major region of interest is North America (Canada, the United States and Mexico), and I have conducted field research in all three countries.
I am keenly motivated by a interest in cooperation amongst agents across multiple scales. Why do people cooperate to manage common pool resources and can we look at a wasted resource like wastewater) through the lenses of CPR theories? What drives firms to co-locate in the same geographical region even when they are potential competitors and how do clusters of allied (coupled/interconnected) industries respond to a multiplicity of stressors? What strategies do environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) use to put pressure on governments to reduce their pollutant emissions and what are the underlying reasons why these ENGOs build transnational coalitions? Under what circumstances do business use cooperative approaches to pollution control and how effective are these in reducing pollutant releases?
My Research Output and Findings
My empirical research has shown, amongst other things, that:
- Water conflicts that take too long to resolve become intractable and risk becoming non-governable. These conflicts often are exacerbated because of non-aligned interests and non-cooperative approaches to problem solving.
- Urban water governance problems at a local scale (public water and wastewater service delivery) face a problem of rescaling when the main urban center expands rapidly. This leads to the emergence of a cooperative institutional arrangement called “intermunicipality”.
- Bottled water consumption in Mexico has risen due to a number of factors, including a weak regulatory framework, strong marketing campaigns by transnational corporations, and persistent ideas about tap water’s lack of proper quality.
- River basin councils have proven innovative institutional reforms to govern water, yet they are ineffective in improving wastewater management at the municipal, provincial and federal levels.
- Municipalities who engage in collaborative arrangements with informal waste pickers often face less problems when designing integrated solid waste management strategies.
- Environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) can successfully use coalition-building strategies to effectively put pressure on national governments to improve their pollution-control performance policy under specific circumstances that include campaigning for issues that have a direct effect on human health.
- Small cities with mono-industry structures will engage in countervailing strategies if faced with multiple cross-scalar stressors, whereas cities where there is potential for industrial diversification will broaden their repertoire of industries.
My research is theoretically-grounded, policy-relevant, applied and empirically-informed. While I consider myself a comparative environmental policy specialist (with much of my fieldwork focused on Mexican environmental politics), I also analyze Canadian and US environmental problems within the context of a North American environmental policy regime. I use mixed-methods in my research. A keen interest in public policy evaluation and application to real life drives my scholarly research. While well-versed in qualitative approaches to research design, I am also conversant in quantitative analysis.
I use Geographical Information Systems (GIS), and I have a keen interest in formal models and game theory. I have conducted extensive fieldwork and assembled my own datasets through archival research and structured/semi-structured interviewing. I’ve also conducted extensive ethnographic work in countries such as Spain, France, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Uruguay, Argentina. You can also check my Previous Projects, Current Projects and Research Output pages to learn more about my scholarship.