Misplaced Distrust
168 pages, 6 x 9
12 tables
Release Date:01 Jan 2004
Release Date:15 Aug 2003
Release Date:01 Oct 2007

Misplaced Distrust

Policy Networks and the Environment in France, the United States, and Canada

UBC Press

Citizens of industrialized countries largely share a sense thatnational and international governance is inadequate, believing not onlythat public authorities are incapable of making the right policydecisions, but also that the entire network of state and civil societyactors responsible for the discussion, negotiation, and implementationof policy choices is untrustworthy.

Using agro-environmental policy development in France, the UnitedStates, and Canada as case studies, Éric Montpetit sets out toinvestigate the validity of this distrust through careful attention tothe performance of the relevant policy networks. He concludes thatdistrust in policy networks is, for the most part, misplaced becausehigh levels of performance by policy networks are more common than manypolitical analysts and citizens expect. Opposing the tenets of stateretrenchment, his study reveals that providing participation ingovernance to resourceful interest groups and strong governmentbureaucracies is an essential component of sound environmental policiesfor agriculture.

A timely and crucial contribution to the good governance debate,this book should be required reading for policy makers and politicians,as well as students and scholars of public policy, political science,environmental studies, and government.


  • 2006, Winner - Lynton Keith Caldwell Prize, American Political Science STEP Award
  • 2004, Short-listed - Donner Prize, Donner Foundation
This book is a welcome addition to the environmental policy literature, primarily because it addresses an important gap in our understanding of the relationship among agricultural practices, environmental protection, and public policy. Misplaced Distrust contains a valuable discussion of how France, the United States, and Canada have developed policies to control the negative impacts of agricultural practices on the ecosystem. Perhaps this investigation will inspire other political scientists to conduct additional comparative research in this important policy area. Sheldon Kamieniecki, University of Southern California, Persectives on Politics, vol. 3, no. 3
At a time when the issue of agricultural pollution has been identified as one of the most significant problems facing Canadians across the country, a book of this nature is both timely and pertinent. It makes a significant contribution to the political science, public policy, and environmental literatures. Debora L. VanNijnatten, Department of Political Science, Wilfrid Laurier University, co-editor of Canadian Environmental Policy
Drawing on extensive primary research and interviews with key decision makers and participants, Montpetit has produced a first class comparative study of state-network interactions in the area of agro-environmental policy making in the U.S., Canada, and France. Michael Howlett, Burnaby Mountain Professor, Department of Political Science, Simon Fraser University, and author of Canadian Forest Policy (Toronto, 2001), The Political Economy of Canada (Oxford, 1999), and Canadian Natural Resource and Environmental Policy (UBC Press, 1997)
Éric Montpetit is with the Département de sciencepolitique at the Université de Montréal.




1. Introduction

2. Assessing Policy-Making Performance

3. Networks and Performance

4. France: A Shift from Low- to High-Level Performance

5. The United States: Performance in the Absence ofIntergovernmental Coordination

6. Canada: Stalled at a Low Performance Level

7. Misplaced Distrust




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