Rethinking Social Barriers to Effective Adaptive Management

West, S, Schultz, L and Bekessy, S 2016, 'Rethinking Social Barriers to Effective Adaptive Management', Environmental Management, vol. 58, no. 3, pp. 399-416.

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

Title Rethinking Social Barriers to Effective Adaptive Management
Author(s) West, S
Schultz, L
Bekessy, S
Year 2016
Journal name Environmental Management
Volume number 58
Issue number 3
Start page 399
End page 416
Total pages 18
Publisher Springer
Abstract Adaptive management is an approach to environmental management based on learning-by-doing, where complexity, uncertainty, and incomplete knowledge are acknowledged and management actions are treated as experiments. However, while adaptive management has received significant uptake in theory, it remains elusively difficult to enact in practice. Proponents have blamed social barriers and have called for social science contributions. We address this gap by adopting a qualitative approach to explore the development of an ecological monitoring program within an adaptive management framework in a public land management organization in Australia. We ask what practices are used to enact the monitoring program and how do they shape learning? We elicit a rich narrative through extensive interviews with a key individual, and analyze the narrative using thematic analysis. We discuss our results in relation to the concept of 'knowledge work' and Westley's (2002) framework for interpreting the strategies of adaptive managers-'managing through, in, out and up.' We find that enacting the program is conditioned by distinct and sometimes competing logics-scientific logics prioritizing experimentation and learning, public logics emphasizing accountability and legitimacy, and corporate logics demanding efficiency and effectiveness. In this context, implementing adaptive management entails practices of translation to negotiate tensions between objective and situated knowledge, external experts and organizational staff, and collegiate and hierarchical norms. Our contribution embraces the 'doing' of learning-by-doing and marks a shift from conceptualizing the social as an external barrier to adaptive management to be removed to an approach that situates adaptive management as social knowledge practice.
Subject Conservation and Biodiversity
Environmental Management
Keyword(s) Adaptive management
Knowledge work
DOI - identifier 10.1007/s00267-016-0721-3
Copyright notice © 2016 Springer Science+Business Media New York
ISSN 0364-152X
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 2 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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