Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation


Examining the Power Dynamics and Outcomes of Oregon Forest Collaboratives Public Deposited

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  • Forest collaboration emerged in Oregon about 30 years ago as a way to address increasing conflict and distrust amongst stakeholder groups and public land managers. The concept has spread widely, and forest collaboratives are now commonplace on most National Forests in the Pacific Northwest. These groups include a wide range of stakeholders and produce a variety of outcomes from informal management recommendations to budgetary decisions about restoration projects. As forest collaboratives increase in number and prominence, it is important to consider how they produce outcomes, who is at the table, and the role of power in these community natural resource management groups. My research poses the following questions: 1) How do power dynamics influence interactions among stakeholders within a forest collaborative? 2) How do the power dynamics between forest collaboratives and the Forest Service impact the actions and outcomes of these groups? And 3) How does the broader Oregon Forest Collaborative Governance Network impact the work of forest collaboratives? I explored these questions using an embedded case study, mixed methods approach through semi-structured interviews, document analysis, and social network analysis. Using collaborative outcome and power frameworks, I quantitatively and qualitatively analyzed these data for themes related to power, social networks, and collaborative outcomes. Results suggest that there are distinct powerful leaders and participants of forest collaboratives. This study also identified that power shifting of specific sources of power is occurring between forest collaboratives and the Forest Service. Finally, I found that the Oregon Forest Collaborative Network both supports and limits the work of forest collaboratives, but that forest collaboratives also shape the Network. To address these findings, I recommend that forest collaborative facilitators assess how the four sources of power play a role in their own groups, that researchers continue to examine the changing dynamics between forest collaboratives and the Forest Service, and that forest collaborative practitioners at all levels consider the impact of policy and funding access on the work of forest collaboratives.
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