Addressing the Issues: The Choice of Environmental Conflict-Resolution Venues in the United States


  • Research for this article was supported by the National Science Foundation, Award SES-0451559/04–51588. We thank our research assistants, Meghan Maloney, McKenzie Johnson, Kate Faulhauber, and Stephanie Johnson, for their help coding data on the conflicts analyzed in this article. We also thank Dustin Garrick for his database development and management efforts, Xavier Basurto for his impeccable data entry, and Carl Case for reading drafts. The data replication files for this article are available from the authors or on the Workshop in Policy Process Research website at the University of Colorado Denver:

Tanya Heikkila is Associate Professor of Public Affairs, University of Colorado Denver, P.O. Box 173364—Campus Box 142, Denver, CO 80217–3364 ( Edella C. Schlager is Professor of Government and Public Policy, University of Arizona, 315 Social Science Bldg., P.O. Box 210027, Tucson, AZ 85721–0027 (


Environmental conflicts are the catalyst for policy and institutional changes, and they are expected to increase due to rising populations, economic growth, and climate change impacts. Yet, environmental conflicts and the venues used to address them have not been thoroughly examined. A common-pool resource dilemmas typology is used to categorize environmental conflict issues and to develop hypotheses relating conflict issues to resolution venues. The hypotheses are tested on western water-resource conflicts. The capacity of venues to address the underlying conflict issues as well as how some venues tend to work in tandem are important for explaining the matching of conflict type to venue.