Sustainable fishery management is a complex multi-sectoral challenge requiring substantial interagency coordination, collaboration, and knowledge sharing. While scholars of public management network theory and natural resource management have identified trust as one of the key ideational network properties that facilitates such interaction, relatively few studies have operationalized and measured the multiple dimensions of trust and their influence on collaboration. This article presents the results of an exploratory study examining the Gulf of Mexico fishery management network comprised of more than 30 stakeholder organizations. Using an empirically validated survey instrument, the distribution of four types of trust, three gradations of influence, and the degree of formality and informality in actor communications were assessed across the fishery public management network. The analysis reveals generally low levels of interorganizational procedural trust and a high degree of network fragmentation along the international border. Civil servants based at U.S. organizations reported nearly no interactions with Mexican agencies, and vice versa. Rational (calculative) trust was the most important in bringing about reported change in other organizations, while dispositional distrust and affinitive (relational) trust also had significant effects. The results suggest that, although transactional interorganizational relationships prevail in Gulf of Mexico fishery governance, well-developed professional relationships contribute meaningfully to the reported success of public fishery network management and warrants further policy attention in order to help ensure sustainability.
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