In this book, Mark Sproule-Jones reports on research into the organization and effectiveness of efforts to improve environmental quality in the Great Lakes under a new approach begun in 1985. That year, the International Joint Commission (IJC) asked the governments of Canada and the United States to develop remedial action plans to reduce pollution and restore degraded uses in 43 areas of concern-regions whose persistent degradation had resisted earlier attempts at improvement. The two governments, in collaboration with the states and provinces, were given wide latitude in how to proceed: the IJC's only specific requests were that all plans involve local stakeholders and that they recognize interdependencies of resources and uses. This initiative has generated a diverse body of experience, of great potential value for advancing the understanding of institutional design and associated outcomes. Sproule-Jones's ambitious agenda is to explain variations in the success of these 43 experiments; to attribute variation in effectiveness to different rules and institutions, taking into account sites' differing degrees of degradation and biophysical complexity; and advance a broader theoretical understanding of how responses to common-pool resources can be extended to larger-scale resources subject to multiple, interdependent uses. Working in the "Institutional Analysis and Development" tradition pioneered by Elinor and Vincent Ostrom (Ostrom, 1990, Governing the Commons [Cambridge University Press]), he proposes to examine systems of rules and institutions with a degree of scepticism, recognizing that rules, official reports, and officials' observations are not authoritative descriptions of what happens or why; that rules operating in practice may differ from the official ones; and that rules are better viewed as attempts to construct incentives than as binding constraints on behaviour. He draws on in-depth case studies of four areas (Hamilton Harbour, the Menominee River, the Niagara, and the St. Lawrence), plus secondary literature on a few additional sites and a survey of plan coordinators at all 43 sites.
Parson, Edward A. Review of Restoration of the Great Lakes: Promises, Practices, Performances, by M. Sproule-Jones. Canadian J. Pol. Sci. 37, no. 2 (2004): 439-41.