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The "Thickening" of the US–Mexico Border: Prospects for Cross-Border Networking and Cooperation

Francisco Lara-Valencia


This article examines the effects of national border policy on cooperation and networking among local organizations in the US-Mexico borderlands. Structural and organiztional factors are considered in order to build a conceptual model that explains the development of collaborative relations between public and nonpublic entities in a border context. The model explores three research questions. What factors define border organizations' level of engagement in collaborative networks? What determines the resilience of an organization participating in these networks? How does change in national policy toward the border affect cross-border cooperation and networking? Survey data collected from a sample of local organizations in a section of the US-Mexico border region is used to validate the model. Then, it is argued that policies enacted after 9/11 are "thickening" the border by creating new barriers to cooperation and, ultimately, diluting a form of social capital that is important for the region's long-term development. The model provides analytical avenues for future research in this area.

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Print ISSN: 0886-5655
Online ISSN: 2159-1229