• Planning Livable Communities
  • Volume 19, Number 3
  • Managing Editor: Mark D. Shroder
  • Associate Editor: Michelle P. Matuga
 

Epistemic Communities or Forced Marriages? Evaluating Collaboration Among Sustainable Communities Initiative Regional Planning Grant Recipients

Karen Chapple
Grace Streltzov
Mariana Blondet
Cristina Nape
University of California, Berkeley


The Sustainable Communities Initiative Regional Planning Grant (SCI-RPG) program supported collaborative regional planning that crosscut silos, such as transportation and housing or business and social justice advocacy groups. This article examines the extent to which the program helped diverse regional actors work together and form an “epistemic community,” in which diverse actors develop a common understanding of problems. To analyze the formation of these communities, we built databases on the organizational characteristics of core partners in each grantee consortium, the governance of the grant, and regional economic and demographic characteristics. Multivariate regression models suggest that elements of epistemic communities are indeed emerging, but their effect on implementation is harder to predict. Three case studies of grantee regions with longstanding political divides, inequality, or both illustrate just how the SCI-RPG program helped to bridge differences and form new epistemic communities. The findings of this research suggest that federal grant programs like the SCI-RPG can help catalyze and institutionalize regional collaboration among diverse actors.


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