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Agenda-setting and power in collaborative natural resource management

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 November 2013

Forest Research, Centre for Human and Ecological Sciences, Alice Holt Lodge, Farnham, Surrey GU10 4LH, UK
Department of Anthropology and Associated Faculty, Anthropological Center for Training and Research on Global Environmental Change, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA
The James Hutton Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen AB15 8QH, UK
*Correspondence: Dr Norman Dandy Tel: +44 1420 526228 e-mail:


Collaborative management is a widely accepted means of resolving conflict amongst natural resource stakeholders. Power sharing is central to most conceptualizations of collaboration, but theoretical insights about power are only rarely used to interrogate collaborative processes. Agenda-setting theory was used to analyse cases of collaborative deer management in England, Scotland and Indiana (USA). Collaborative management agendas across scales and social contexts were found to be primarily set by contextual factors, particularly stakeholders drawing on specific cultures and policies, and pre-defining issues. These findings highlight significant gaps between the theory and practice of collaboration. If, in practice, substantial power has been wielded in advance, the capacity of subsequent collaborative processes to share power amongst stakeholders may be severely limited. To provide opportunities for differing cultural perspectives to be expressed and challenged, convenors of collaborative processes therefore need to be aware of and reflexive upon existing power relationships and structures.

Copyright © Crown Copyright. Published by Foundation for Environmental Conservation 2013 

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