Bureaucratic Landscapes

From Politics, Science, and the Environment

Bureaucratic Landscapes

Interagency Cooperation and the Preservation of Biodiversity

By Craig W. Thomas





Political scientists have long been concerned about the tension between institutional fragmentation and policy coordination in the U.S. bureaucracy. The literature is rife with examples of agencies competing with each other or asserting their independence, while cooperation is relatively rare. This is of particular importance in policy areas such as biodiversity, where species, habitats, and ecosystems cross various agency jurisdictions.

Bureaucratic Landscapes explores the reasons for the success and failure of interagency cooperation, focusing on several case studies of efforts to preserve biodiversity in California. The book examines why public officials tried to cooperate and the obstacles they faced, providing indirect evidence of policy impacts as well. Among other topics, it examines the role of courts in prompting agency action, the role of scientific knowledge in organizational learning, and the emergence of new institutions to resolve collective-action problems. Notable findings include the crucial role of environmental lawsuits in prompting agency action and the surprisingly active role of the Bureau of Land Management in resource preservation.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262201414 375 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


$30.00 X ISBN: 9780262700894 375 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


  • A timely and important contribution to our knowledge of how and when public agencies will engage in effective cooperation and to our understanding of the political and administrative aspects of biodiversity preservation. This extremely well-written and well-researched study will enjoy a wide readership in the fields of public administration, organization theory, and environmental science.

    Chris Ansell

    Department of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley

  • This book is a significant contribution to the field. Interagency cooperation or the lack of it is an important topic in natural resource policy and management. Craig Thomas helps clarify the need for improved cooperation and why cooperation is so rare today.

    Timothy W. Clark

    School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University

  • Thomas's compelling study shows how federal agencies, threatened by court action and guided by new ideas about problem solving, are suprisingly able to cooperate informally to tackle the current generation of environmental problems. It also sets the stage for the coming debate about how to make these informal innovations official in organizational forms.

    Charles Sabel

    Professor of Law and Social Science, Columbia Law School