Monday, February 15, 2010

From Coordination to Integration to Centralization, a slippery slope?

Integrated Coastal Management generally favors coordination over centralization. ICM's call for greater integration is often used to express this preference. However the term 'integration' in the ICM literature is almost ubiquitously used, much like 'sustainability' is used in most environmentally-concerned literature. Accordingly, its meaning is often fuzzy. In practice, and sometimes in the literature, integration activities have more often involved the reorganization, and centralization of various governmental institutions under one, new, umbrella institution. In the USA this umbrella organization is the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and in South Korea it is the MOMAF (Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries). The reason for this centralization, as opposed to true interorganizational coordination is quite simple. Coordination is hard, centralization relatively easy. This very helpful article by Seoung-Yong Hong talks about how Korea found this out while attempting to reshape it's coastal management systems in line with ICM principles.

The only problem is that one of ICM's central tenants is that centralization doesn't work.

So the question is, after 25 years has ICM managed to really change the methods and principles by which we manage the coasts or has it simply given traditional coastal management methods a terminological makeover?

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