Date of Award

Spring 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Public Service

Committee Director

John C. Morris

Committee Member

Katrina Miller-Stevens

Committee Member

William A. Gibson


Watersheds are complex, dynamic and nested ecological systems that span across multiple jurisdictions. The complexity of watershed pollution requires adaptive and responsive strategies that incorporate government intervention along with community stakeholder engagement. This study explores the motivational determinants that drive local cross-sector watershed collaboration. Cross-sector collaboration offers local watershed stakeholders a holistic approach to address community watershed issues. These collaborative partnerships involve the voluntary engagement of member organizations from different industry sectors directing resources and working together to address local watershed issues of mutual interest.

This research explores the social processes and the motivations that drive organizations in different industry sectors to engage in local watershed collaboration. Drawn from the motivational and interorganizational relationships literature, a conceptual framework is created to guide the investigation of the study. A single case study research design is utilized to answer the research questions. Data sources included: (1) interviews, (2) official government and organizational web sites and various media sources, and (3) field observations and memos. A total of twenty-nine organizations participated in the study. The composition of the organizations included 10 private sector organizations, 10 public sector organizations and 9 nonprofit sector organizations. Interviews were conducted with representatives from each of the member organizations that collaborate with Lynnhaven River Now. All of the organizations in the study are located within the boundaries of the Lynnhaven River watershed.

The results of the study identify ten motivational determinants that drive local cross-sector watershed collaboration. These motivational determinants include asymmetry, catalytic actors, corporate/social consciousness, efficiency, instability, legitimacy, necessity, organizational interests, reciprocity, and stability. In addition, the results of the study identify variations in the level of prevalence in the motivations of organizations from the public, private and nonprofit sectors that collaborate with LRN. Finally, the results from the study identify three types of organizational motivation orientations in local cross-sector watershed collaboration: (1) transactional, (2) philanthropic and (3) symbiotic. Empirical evidence suggests that determinants in local cross-sector watershed collaboration are likely driven by the organizational motivational orientations of an organization.


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