An institutional analysis of Canadian advisory committees: Linking committee structure and function to policy changes
Roy, Amy Elizabeth
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The creation of Canada’s Oceans Act in 1997 encouraged public participation and the use of advisory committees in marine management. To date however, there have been few comparative studies examining whether these advisory committees have influenced any marine management policies. This study addressed three research questions to fill this gap: a) have any Canadian marine or aquatic advisory committees successfully influenced policy, b) if they have, what organizational or procedural characteristics contributed to this success, and c) can any recommendations be made in light of these characteristics to improve the probability of success for future committees? Eight committees were then selected and analyzed using the Institutional Analysis and Development Framework to attempt to answer these questions. Four case studies were judged to be successful at influencing marine or aquatic policy, while two were partially successful, and two were considered unsuccessful. Successful advisory committees were found to have two common elements. First, and most importantly, the committees had political support. In addition, effective communication existed between the committee and the government decision-makers throughout the advisory process. Although personal opinions were not analyzed in this research, and the list of factors examined was not exhaustive, it is the conclusion of this study that organizational and procedural factors should be considered when convening marine advisory committees. Consequently, five recommendations were proposed to improve the likelihood of committee success. However, it would be prudent to view these recommendations circumspectly with additional research into institutional dynamics of advisory committees strongly recommended.