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Institutional Collective Action (ICA)  

ICA Review Essay The Institutional Collective Action Framework

    Feiock, R. (2013). The Institutional Collective Action Framework. Policy Studies Journal 41(3): 397–425. Open Access:

The ICA framework introduces an array of collaboration mechanisms available to coordinate the actions of local governments to mitigate local and regional dilemmas of fragmented authority that characterize a federalist system.  In metropolitan regions authority to address public problems can be fragmented vertically among levels of government, horizontally among local governments, or functionally among agencies and bureaus.  Fragmented authority produces institutional collective action dilemmas when lack on integration results in spillovers or loss of scale economies. Institutional Collective Action (ICA) provides a framework to understand these dilemmas and the collaborative mechanisms to mitigate them.  Informal types of agreements impose fewer restrictions on participants because they are flexible, voluntary, and do not require local governments to give up autonomy but they are unlikely to be sustained if participants face “collaboration  risks” of not being able to coordinate on a course of action, not being able to agree to division of costs, or not being able to prevent others from reneging or  free riding  following agreement.  The ICA framework posits that these collaboration risks vary by the type of mechanism used, the actors involved, and the nature of the problem.

ICA Publications

Feiock, R. C. (2023). 24. Regional governance and institutional collective action. Handbook on Local and Regional Governance, 362.

Nascimento, A. B. F. M. do ., Fernandes, A. S. A., Sano, H., Grin, E. J., & Silvestre, H. C.. (2021). Inter-municipal cooperation based on Institutional Collective Action: the effects of public health consortia in Brazil. Revista De Administração Pública, 55(Rev. Adm. Pública, 2021 55(6)), 1369–1391.

Swann, W. L., & Kim, S. Y. (2018). Practical prescriptions for governing fragmented governments. Policy & Politics46(2), 273-292.

Jon Pierre (2019) Multilevel governance as a strategy to build capacity in cities: Evidence from Sweden, Journal of Urban Affairs, 41:1, 103-116, DOI: 10.1080/07352166.2017.1310532

Li, W. and Chan, H.S. (2009), Clean air in urban China: The case of inter-agency coordination in Chongqing’s Blue Sky Program. Public Admin. Dev., 29: 55-67.

Stina Ellevseth Oseland, S.E. (2019) Breaking silos: can cities break down institutional barriers in climate planning?, Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning, 21:4, 345-357, DOI: 10.1080/1523908X.2019.1623657

Hubbard, M., & Fowler, L. (2021). Institutional collective action on drugs: Functional and vertical dilemmas of unused pharmaceuticals. Review of Policy Research38(1), 76-96.

Lee, H. (2021). Functional collective action dilemma and collaborative management. In Handbook of Collaborative Public Management (pp. 268-281). Edward Elgar Publishing.

Kim, S. (2021a). Integration of Policy Decision Making for Sustainable Land Use within Cities. Sustainability13(18), 10390.

Caroline Archambault, C. and Ehrhardt, D. (2022). The committeefication of collective action in Africa, World Development,153,105825.

Chen Huang, Hongtao Yi, Tao Chen, Xiaolin Xu & Shiying Chen (2022) Networked environmental governance: formal and informal collaborative networks in local China, Policy Studies, 43:3, 403-421, DOI: 10.1080/01442872.2020.1758306

Xin, G. (2022). What Contributes to the Formation of Stable Collaborative Water Governance? Lex Localis – Journal of Local Self-Government 20 (4): 907-930.

Hwang, J., Song, M., & Cho, S. (2020). Institutional Arrangement and Policy Context Underlying Sustainability Actions in the U.S.: Lessons for Asian Regions. Journal of Contemporary Eastern Asia19(1), 59–83.

Jung, K., Song, M., & Park, H. J. (2019). The dynamics of an interorganizational emergency management network: Interdependent and independent risk hypotheses. Public Administration Review79(2), 225-235.

Song, M., Park, H. J., & Jung, K. (2018). Do political similarities facilitate interlocal collaboration?. Public Administration Review78(2), 261-269.

Wittwer, S., Sager, F., & Huegli, E. (2022). Does voluntary cooperation in member state implementation require top‐down steering? The case of regional policy in Switzerland. Governance35(2), 457-475.

Szmigiel-Rawska, K., & DĄBROWSKA, A. (2016). Pride and Prejudice: The Local Leaders’ Attitude Towards Place-Based Collaboration in the Warsaw Metropolitan Area. Lex Localis-Journal of Local Self-Government14(4).

Chen, L. (2022). Economic development collaboration in public administration research: A systematic literature review. Chinese Public Administration Review13(1-2), 15-28.

Meza, O. D., Grin, E. J., Fernandes, A. S., & Abrucio, F. L. (2019). Intermunicipal Cooperation in Metropolitan Regions in Brazil and Mexico: Does Federalism Matter? Urban Affairs Review55(3), 887–922.

Kim, K., Andrew, S. A., & Jung, K. (2017). Public health network structure and collaboration effectiveness during the 2015 MERS outbreak in South Korea: an institutional collective action framework. International journal of environmental research and public health14(9), 1064.

Kim, S. Y., Swann, W. L., & Feiock, R. C. (2020). Collective learning and institutional collective action in fragmented governance. Knowledge for governance, 351-373.

Minsun Song (2020) Testing the forms and consequences of collaboration risk in emergency management networks, The Social Science Journal, DOI: 10.1080/03623319.2020.1744949

Hansen, K., Mullin,  M. Riggs, M. (2020). Collaboration Risk and the Choice to Consolidate Local Government Services, Perspectives on Public Management and Governance 3 (3):  223–238,

Soujaa, I., Nukpezah, J. A., & Benavides, A. D. (2021). Coordination Effectiveness During Public Health Emergencies: An Institutional Collective Action Framework. Administration & Society53(7), 1014–1045.

Shaowei, C., Rui, L., & Youqiang, W. (2016). Role and significance of political incentives: understanding institutional collective action in local inter-governmental arrangements in China. Asia Pacific Journal of Public Administration38(4), 211-222.

Woods, N. D., & Bowman, A. O. M. (2018). Collective action and the evolution of intergovernmental cooperation. Policy Studies Journal46(3), 487-509.

Nascimento, A. B. F. M. D., Fernandes, A. S. A., Sano, H., Grin, E. J., & Silvestre, H. C. (2022). Inter-municipal cooperation based on Institutional Collective Action: the effects of public health consortia in Brazil. Revista de Administração Pública55, 1369-1391.

Bauroth, N. G. (2018). Conflict on the Red River: Applying the institutional collective action framework to regional flood policy. Public Policy and Administration33(3), 311-331.

Xin, G., & Chen, J. (2023). Decentralized governance and collective action dilemma: Sub‐national governments’ responses to COVID‐19 in China. Public Administration and Development.

Sandra Corredor, Joseph T. Mahoney, and Deepak Somaya, 2016: Towards a More Complete Taxonomy of Design Solutions for Managerial Collective Action ProblemsProceedings, 2016

Shaowei Chen, Xinfeng Zhao & Lingyi Zhou (2023) Which works better? Comparing the environmental outcomes of different forms of intergovernmental collaboration in China’s air pollution control, Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning, 25:1, 16-28, DOI: 10.1080/1523908X.2021.2000379

Suo, Liming, Xue Li, and Shuai Cao. (2023). “How governance boundaries affect regional collaboration on atmospheric governance—Evidence from China’s Yangtze River Delta.” Review of Policy Research.

An, B. Y., S. Y. Tang, and W. D. Leach. 2021. “Managing Environmental Change through Inter-Agency Collaboration: Protective Governance in Mandated Sustainability Planning.” Environmental Science & Policy 125: 146–156. doi:10.1016/j.envsci.2021.08.024

Andrew, S. A., J. E. Short, K. Jung, and S. Arlikatti. 2015. “Intergovernmental Cooperation in the Provision of Public Safety: Monitoring Mechanisms Embedded in Interlocal Agreements.” Public Administration Review 75 (3): 401–410. doi:10.1111/puar.12312.

Bodin, Ö. 2017. “Collaborative Environmental Governance: Achieving Collective Action in Social-Ecological Systems.” Science 357 (6352): 6352. doi:10.1126/science.aan1114.

Liu, Y., J. Wu, H. Yi, and J. Wen. 2021. “Under What Conditions Do Governments Collaborate? A Qualitative Comparative Analysis of Air Pollution Control in China.” Public Management Review 23 (11): 1664–1682. doi:10.1080/14719037.2021.1879915. 

Youm, J., and J. Terman. 2020. “Dynamic Collaboration: The Effects of External Rules and Collaboration Scope on Interlocal Collaboration.” Review of Policy Research 37 (6): 823–841. doi:10.1111/ropr.12403.

Huixu Li, Xianwen Wang, Rui Mu & Lanjian Liu (2023) Hierarchical interventions and environmental collaboration among municipal governments: a bottom-up analysis, Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, DOI: 10.1080/09640568.2023.2174090

Brian Y An, Shui-Yan Tang, When Agency Priorities Matter: Risk Aversion for Autonomy and Turf Protection in Mandated Collaboration, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Volume 33, Issue 1, January 2023, Pages 106–121,

Ssu-Hsien Chen (2021) Municipal carbon reduction policy in Taiwan: A collective action perspective, Journal of Urban Affairs, 43:8, 1100-1117, DOI: 10.1080/07352166.2020.1718508

Mattia Casula & Serafín Pazos-Vidal (2021) Assessing the Multi-level Government Response to the COVID-19 Crisis: Italy and Spain Compared, International Journal of Public Administration, 44:11-12, 994-1005, DOI: 10.1080/01900692.2021.1915330

Lee, Y., & Lee, I. W. (2022). A longitudinal network analysis of intergovernmental collaboration for local economic development. Urban Affairs Review58(1), 229-257.

Kwak, C.-G., Ki, N., & Hwang, S.-J. (2021). Selective vs. Collective Outcomes of Collaborative Governance: The Impacts of Federal Stimulus Programs on Local and Regional Governance Outcomes. Sustainability13(21), 11941. MDPI AG. Retrieved from

Noda, Yu. 2022. “ Intermunicipal Cooperation, Integration Forms, and Vertical and Horizontal Effects in Japan.” Public Administration Review 1– 25.

Mattia Casula (2020) A contextual explanation of regional governance in Europe: insights from inter-municipal cooperation, Public Management Review, 22:12, 1819-1851, DOI: 10.1080/14719037.2019.1665700

Elizabeth Baldwin, Tingjia Chen & Daniel Cole (2019) Institutional analysis for new public governance scholars, Public Management Review, 21:6, 890-917, DOI: 10.1080/14719037.2018.1538427

Stefan Wittwer (2023) Voluntary regional cooperation in Swiss polycentric regions, Territory, Politics, Governance, 11:2, 281-300, DOI: 10.1080/21622671.2020.1837663

Kim, S. (2021b). Elevating the Scale of Cross-Boundary Cooperation: Mechanisms for Cross-Regional Policy Coordination.  Urban Affairs Review Forum.

Germà Bel, Ivo Bischoff, Sara Blåka, Mattia Casula, Jakub Lysek, Pawel Swianiewicz, António F. Tavares & Bart Voorn (2022) Styles of inter-municipal cooperation and the multiple principal problem: a comparative analysis of European economic area countries, Local Government Studies, DOI: 10.1080/03003930.2022.2041416

Puyao Xing & Hua Xing (2022) Environmental inter-local collaboration under meta-governance: the trade-off between collective and selective benefits, Local Government Studies, DOI: 10.1080/03003930.2022.2148662

Deslatte, A., & Stokan, E. (2020). Sustainability synergies or silos? The opportunity cost of local government organizational capabilities. Public Administration Review, 80(6), 1024–1034.

Manoj K. Shrestha (2022) How Do Bridging and Bonding Networks Emerge in Local Economic Development Collaboration?, International Journal of Public Administration, DOI: 10.1080/01900692.2022.2044858

Camões, P. J., Tavares, A., & Teles, F. (2021). Assessing the intensity of cooperation: a study of joint delegation of municipal functions to inter-municipal associations. Local Government Studies47(4), 593-615.

Ki, N., Kwak, C.-G. and Song, M. (2020), Strength of Strong Ties in Intercity Government Information Sharing and County Jurisdictional Boundaries. Public Admin Rev, 80: 23-35.

Suo, L., Li, X., & Cao, S. (2023). How governance boundaries affect regional collaboration on atmospheric governance—Evidence from China’s Yangtze River Delta. Review of Policy Research, 00, 1– 25.

Feiock, R. Krause, R, Hawkins C. (2018).  “The Impact of Administrative Structure on the Ability of City Governments to Overcome Functional Collective Action Dilemmas: A Climate and Energy Perspective,”  Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 28. mux021, 10.1093/jopart/mux021.

Kyujin J. (2017). “Sources of Organizational Resilience for Sustainable Communities: An Institutional Collective Action Perspective,” Sustainability 9(7); doi:10.3390/su9071141

Yi, H., Suo, L. Shen, R. Zhang J. Ramaswami, A. Feiock, R. (2018).  “Regional Governance and Institutional Collective Action for Environmental Sustainability in China,”  Public Administration Review, DOI: 10.1111/puar.12799.

Bauroth, N. (2017).  “Conflict on the Red River: Applying the institutional collective action framework to regional flood policy,” Public Policy and Administration 10.1177/0952076717693296.

Deslatte, A., Feiock R. Wassel, K. (2017).  “Urban Pressures and Innovations: Sustainability Commitment in the Face of Fragmentation and Inequality,” Review of Policy Research, DOI: 10.1111/ropr.12242.

Jung, K. Song, M. and Feiock. R. (2017).  “Isolated and Broken Bridges from a Disaster: A Longitudinal Study of Interorganizational Emergency Management Networks before and after the 2013 Seoul Floods,” Urban Affairs Review. DOI: 10.1177/1078087417690257

Yi. H. Feiock R. Berry F. (2017).  “Overcoming Collective Action Barriers to Energy Sustainability: A Longitudinal Study of Climate Protection Accord Adoption by Local Governments,” Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 79: 339-346.

Lubell, M. Mewhirter, J. Berardo, R. Scholz, J. (2016) “Transaction Costs and the Perceived Effectiveness of Complex Institutional Systems,” Public Administration Review 76(5): 693–835.

Percoco, M. (2016). “Strategic Planning and Institutional Collective Action in Italian Cities,” Public Management Review 18(1): 139-158.

Hawkins, C., Hu, Q. and  Feiock, R. (2016). “Self-Organizing Governance of Local Economic Development: Informal Policy Networks and Regional Institutions,” Journal of Urban Affairs 38 (5): 643–660.

Chen, S. and Wang, Y. 2016. “The Role and Significance of Political Incentives in Understanding Institutional Collective Action in Intergovernmental Arrangements in China,” Asia Pacific Journal of Public Administration 38 (4): 211-222.

Terman, J. and Feiock R.  (2016). “Formal and Informal Contract Mechanisms in Local Government Energy Audits and Retrofits,” Local Government Studies 42( 2): 309–331.

Alyamani, T., Damgacioglu, H.,Celik, N., Asfour, S. Feiock, R. (2016).  A Multiple Perspective Modeling and Simulation Approach for Renewable Energy Policy Evaluation, Computers & Industrial Engineering 102: 280-293

Kwak, C., Feiock R.  Hawkins C. Lee, Y. (2016) Impacts of Federal Stimulus Funding on Economic Development Policy Networks among Local Governments. Review of Policy Research, 33(2): 140-159.

Terman, J., Feiock R. Kassekert A., Yang K. (2016). “Walking in the Shadow of Pressman and Wildavsky: Expanding Fiscal Federalism and Goal Congruence Theories to Single-Shot Games,”  Review of Policy Research,33(2): 124–139.

Ha, H., Lee, I. & Feiock, R. (2016).  Organizational Network Activities for Local Economic Development.  Economic Development Quarterly, 30 (1): 15-31.

Krause, R. Feiock, R.  & Hawkins. C. (2016).  “The Administrative Organization of Sustainability within Local Government,” Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 26 (1): 113-127.

Chen, S., Feiock, R., & Hseih, J. (2016).  “Regional Partnerships and Metropolitan Economic Development,” Journal of Urban Affairs DOI: 10.1111/juaf.12183.

Jang, H., Feiock, R. &  Saitgalina, M. (2016).  “Institutional Collective Action Issues in Nonprofit Self-organized Collaboration,” Administration & Society 48 (2): 163-189.

Simon A. Andrew, S., Short, J., Jung,K. Arlikatti, S. (2015).  Intergovernmental Cooperation in the Provision of Public Safety: Monitoring Mechanisms Embedded in Interlocal Agreements, Public Administration Review 75 (3): 401–410.

Yi, H., & Feiock, R. (2015) “Climate Action Plan Adoptions in the U.S. States,” International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management 7 (3) 375 – 393

Andrew S., Jung, K. Li, X. (2015).  “Grass-Root Organizations, Intergovernmental Collaboration, and Emergency Preparedness: An Institutional Collective Action Approach,”  Local Government Studies  41(5): 673-694.

Jung, K,Song, M. (2015).  Linking emergency management networks to disaster resilience: bonding and bridging strategy in hierarchical or horizontal collaboration networks,” Quality & Quantity 49 (4): 1465–1483.

Feiock, R. C., Portney, K.E., Bae, J. (2014).  “Governing Local Sustainability: Agency Venues and Business Group Access,” Urban Affairs Review 50(2): 157–179.

Kwon, M., Jang, H. & Feiock, R.  (2014). “Climate Protection and Energy Sustainability Policy in California Cities: What Have We Learned?” Journal of Urban Affairs 36 (5): 905–924. 

Shrestha, M., Berardo R., and Feiock R. (2014).  “Solving Institutional Collective Action Problems in Multiplex Networks,” Complexity, Governance, and Networks 1(1) 49-60.

Kwon, S. W., Feiock, R. & Bae, J. (2014). “The Roles of Regional Organizations in Interlocal Resource Exchange: Complement or Substitute,” American Review of Public Administration. 44 (3): 339-357. 

Gerber, Elizabeth, Adam Henry, and Mark Lubell. 2013. “Political Homophily and Collaboration in Regional Planning Networks,” American Journal of Political Science,57(3), 598-610.

Kwon, Sung-Wook, Richard Feiock, and Jungah Bae. 2013 “The Roles of Regional Organizations in Interlocal Resource Exchange: Complement or Substitute,” American Review of Public Administration,44 (3) 339-357.

Andrew, Simon A. and James Kendra. 2012. “An Adaptive Governance Approach to Disaster Behavioral Services. The Journal of Disaster Studies,”Policy and Management 36 (3).

Andrew, Simon A., and Jered B. Carr. 2012. “Mitigating Uncertainty and Risk in Planning for Regional Preparedness: The Role of Bonding and Bridging Relationships,”Urban Studies.

Bae, Jungah and Richard C. Feiock. 2012. “Managing Multiplexity: Coordinating Multiple Services at a Regional Level,” State and Local Government Review 44 (2): 162-168.

Feiock, Richard C. In Won Lee and Hyung Jun Park. 2012. “Administrators’ and Elected Officials’ Collaboration Networks: Selecting Partners to Reduce Risk in Economic Development,” Public Administration Review 72: 58–68.

Jang, Hee Soun and Richard C. 2012. “The Collective Action Issues in Nonprofit Self-organized Informal Collaboration,” working paper, Denton TX: University of North Texas..

Lee, In Won, Richard C. Feiock, and Youngmi Lee. 2012. “Competitors and Cooperators: A Micro-Level Analysis of Regional Economic Development Collaboration Networks,” Public Administration Review 72(2): 253-262.

Lee, Youngmi, In Won Lee, and Richard C. Feiock. 2012. “Network Embeddedness and Local Economic Development Collaboration: An Exponential Random Graph Analysis,” Policy Studies Journal 40(3): 547–573.

Minkoff, Scott L. 2012b. “From Competition to Cooperation: A Dyadic Approach to Interlocal Agreements,” American Politics Research.

Park, Jongsun. 2012. “Externality, Institutional Collective Action, Competition, Conflict,” The Korean Journal of Policy Studies 27(1): 57-85.

Shrestha, Manoj. 2012. “Internal versus External Social Capital and the Success of Community Initiatives: A Case of Self-Organizing Collaborative Governance in Nepal,” Public Administration Review.

Hawkins, Christopher V., and Simon A. Andrew. 2011. “Understanding Horizontal and Vertical Relations in the Context of Economic Development Joint Venture Agreements,” Urban Affairs Review 47(3): 385-412.

Pierre, Jon. 2011. “Cost-efficiency and public interest in inter-local partnerships,” Urban Research & Practice 4(1): 13-22.

Shrestha, Manoj K., and Richard C. Feiock. 2011. “Transaction Cost, Exchange Embeddedness, and Interlocal Cooperation in Local Public Goods Supply,” Political Research Quarterly 64(3): 573-587.

Berardo, Ramiro and John Scholz., 2010. “Self-Organizing Policy Networks: Risk, Partner Selection, and Cooperation in Estuaries,” American Journal of Political Science 54(3).

Farmer, Jayce L. 2010. “Factors influencing special purpose service delivery among counties,” Public Performance & Management Review 33(4): 535-554.

Hawkins, Christopher V. 2010. “Competition and cooperation: Local government joint ventures for economic development,” Journal of Urban Affairs 32(2): 253-275.

Hawkins, Christopher V., and Simon A. Andrew. 2010. “Linking Cooperative Arrangements and Economic Development Strategies: An Institutional Collective Action Framework,” International Review of Public Administration 15(1) 1-16.

Kwon, Sung-Wook, Richard Feiock. 2010. “Overcoming the barriers to cooperation: Intergovernmental service agreements,” Public Administration Review 70(6): 876-884.

LeRoux, Kelly, Oaul W. Brandenburger, and Sanjay K. Pandy 2010. “Interlocal service cooperation in US cities; A social network explanation,” Public Administration Review 70(2): 268-278.

Tavares, António F. 2010. “The Formation of Regional Councils of Governments: A Transaction Costs Theory of Collaboration,”working paper, Universidade do Minho, Portugal.

Andrew, Simon A. 2009. “Regional Integration through Contracting Networks: An Empirical Analysis of Institutional Collection Action,” Urban Affairs Review 4(3): 403-427.

Carr, Jered B., Kelly LeRoux, and Manoj Shrestha. 2009. “Institutional ties, transaction costs, and external service production,” Urban Affairs Review 44(3): 378-402.

Feiock, Richard C.2009. “Metropolitan Governance and Institutional Collective Action,” Urban Affairs Review 45(3).

Feiock, Richard C., Annette Steinacker and Hyung-Jun Park. 2009. “Institutional Collective Action and Economic Development Joint Ventures,” Public Administration Review 69(2): 256-270.

Shrestha, Manoj K., and Richard C. Feiock. 2009. “Governing US Metropolitan Areas Self-Organizing and Multiplex Service Networks,” American Politics Research 37(5): 801-823.

Carr, Jered B. Elisabeth R. Gerber, Eric W. Lupher. 2008. “Explaining Horizontal and Vertical Cooperation on Public Services in Michigan: The Role of Local Fiscal Capacity,” Metropolitan Affairs in Michigan, Michigan State University Press.

Feiock, Ricahrd C. 2007. “Rational Choice and Regional Governance,” Journal of Urban Affairs 29(1): 47-63.

Park, Hyung Jun and Richard C. Feiock. 2007. “Institutional Collective Action, Social Capital, Regional Partnership,” International Review of Public Administration 11(2): 57-69.