Who's in place, who's out of place : examining the politics of natural resource collaboration Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/6t053j13f

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  • A qualitative research approach composed of three strategies was employed to systematically examine the politics of natural resource collaboration. First, using the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds as a case study, the behavioral assumptions of natural resource policy instruments enabling collaboration were uncovered and analyzed. Three key assumptions emerge: 1) stakeholders are internally motivated by strong social values to work with others to save salmon and restore their watersheds; 2) stakeholders are willing to take action in their watershed but lack the capacity to do so, such as financial, technical, and information resources; 3) stakeholders are capable of learning about, testing, and processing feedback from alternative restoration approaches. Second, theoretical perspectives focusing on the social influence of place were integrated with Elinor Ostrom's behavioral theory of collective action. The resulting theoretical framework proposes that place is a variable that influences choice of behavioral strategies in natural resource collaboration by: 1) providing a means for stakeholders to identify and, therefore, understand how to relate to one another; and 2) influencing the probabilities that stakeholders can expect to interact with one another in the future. Third, a qualitative, comparative case study of two watershed councils in western Oregon applied the framework and identified three key dimensions of group identification related to place: 1) group identities related to stakeholders' interest and values in the watershed; 2) group identities related to stakeholders' ways of knowing the watershed; and 3) group identities related to social ties within the watershed. The qualitative research approach sheds light on the diverse behaviors stakeholders exhibit in natural resource collaboration. It challenges the notion that stakeholders are strictly motivated to maximize material self-interest in natural resource politics. Stakeholders vary in their interactions depending on the geographic scale of the landscape in question. The study also provides compelling evidence that stakeholders' collective identification to a shared place generates a higher likelihood of sustaining collaborative relationships and trust in one another.
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