Cross-boundary collaboration is a widely used approach in environmental management, yet only few scholars have examined whether and how collaborative actions convened by externally directed collaborations enhances its environmental outcomes. To address this gap, this article empirically assesses whether a state legislation that authorizes collaborative projects improves environmental outcomes and whether different design characteristics of collaborative actions (convener, leader, and goal multiplicity) lead to different environmental outcomes. We explore these research questions by combining multiple data sources spanning the period of 1980-2021 in the state of Oregon. Employing a regression discontinuity in time (RDiT) design, we find that the establishment of the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds legislation enhances the water quality by about 5 percent. Furthermore, our longitudinal analyses show that projects convened by collaborative governance regimes (i.e., Watershed Council) outperform projects convened by ad hoc collaborations, while local government leaders are more effective than civic group or state government leaders. Also, leaders from the state government become the most effective as the number of goals per project increases. These findings indicate the importance of system context and collaborative actions in environmental outcomes of cross-boundary collaboration.

Figure 5: RDiT estimate of the legislation effect on water quality