Skip to main content Accessibility help

Agenda-setting and power in collaborative natural resource management


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.

Corresponding author
*Correspondence: Dr Norman Dandy Tel: +44 1420 526228 e-mail:
Hide All
Armitage, D.R., Plummer, R., Berkes, F., Arthur, R.I., Charles, A.T., Davidson-Hunt, I.J., Diduck, A.P., Doubleday, N.C., Johnson, D.S., Marschke, M., McConney, P., Pinkerton, E.W. & Wollenberg, E.K. (2009) Adaptive co-management for social-ecological complexity. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 7: 95102.
Bachrach, P. & Baratz, M.S. (1962) Two faces of power. The American Political Science Review 56: 947952.
Baumgartner, F. & Jones, B. (2009) Agendas and Instability in American Politics, second edition. Chicago, IL, USA: University of Chicago Press.
Belton, L.R. & Jackson-Smith, D. (2010) Factors influencing success among collaborative sage-grouse management groups in the western United States. Environmental Conservation 37: 250260.
Berkes, F. (2009) Evolution of co-management: role of knowledge generation, bridging organizations and social learning, Journal of Environmental Management 90: 16921702.
Berkes, F., George, P. & Preston, R.J. (1991) Co-management. Alternatives 18: 1218.
Bernard, H.R. (2011) Research Methods in Anthropology, 5th edition. Walnut Creek, CA, USA: Alta Mira Press.
Bogdewic, S. (1999) Participant observation. In: Doing Qualitative Research, 2nd edition, ed. Crabtree, B.F. & Miller, W.L., pp. 4770. London, UK: Sage Publications.
Booher, D.E & Innes, J.E. (2002) Network power in collaborative planning. Journal of Planning Education and Research 21: 221236.
Borrini-Feyerabend, G., Pimbert, M., Farvar, M.T., Kothari, A. & Renard, Y. (2007) Sharing Power: a Global Guide to Collaborative Management of Natural Resources. London, UK: Earthscan.
Bullock, C.H. (1999) Environmental and strategic uncertainty in common property management: the case of Scottish red deer. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management 42: 235252.
Chrislip, D.D. & Larson, C.E. (1994) Collaborative Leadership: How Citizens and Civic Leaders can Make a Difference. San Francisco, CA, USA: Jossey-Bass.
Citizens for Responsible Deer Management (no date) Citizens for responsible deer management blog [www document]. URL
City of Bloomington (no date) Deer Task Force [www document]. URL
Côté, S.D., Rooney, T.., Tremblay, J.P., Dussault, C. & Waller, D.M. (2004) Ecological impacts of deer overabundance. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 35: 113147.
Daniels, S.E. & Walker, G.B. (2001) Working Through Environmental Conflict: The Collaborative Learning Approach. Westport, CT, USA: Praeger.
Davies, A.L. & White, R. (2012) Collaboration in natural resource governance: reconciling stakeholder expectations in deer management in Scotland. Journal of Environmental Management 112: 160169.
Decker, D.J., Raik, D., Carpenter, L., Organ, J. & Schusler, T. (2005) Collaboration for community based wildlife management. Urban Ecosystems 8: 227236.
DEFRA (2002) Working With the Grain of Nature. A Biodiversity Strategy for England. London, UK: Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
DEFRA (2004) The sustainable management of wild deer populations in England: an action plan. Report. Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, London, UK.
European Commission (2013) The Habitats Directive [www document]. URL
Fiorini, S., Yearley, S. & Dandy, N. (2011) Wild deer multivalence and institutional adaptation: the ‘deer management group’ in Britain. Human Organization 70: 179188.
Gill, R.M.A. (1990) Monitoring the status of European and North American cervids. GEMS Information Series Volume 8. Global Environment Monitoring System, United Nations Environment Programme, Nairobi, Kenya.
Gramsci, A. (1975) [2001] Quaderni del carcere. Torino, Italy: Giuliio Einaudi Editore.
Gray, B. (1985) Conditions facilitating interorganizational collaboration. Human Relations 38: 911936.
Hay, C. (1997) Divided by a common language: political theory and the concept of power. Politics 17: 4552.
IDNR (2010) Common Council of the City of Bloomington and Monroe County, Indiana. 2010. Resolution 10–03 [www document]. URL
Jentoft, S. (2007) In the power of power: the understated aspect of fisheries and coastal management. Human Organization 66: 426437.
Jessop, B. (1997) The governance of complexity and the complexity of governance: preliminary remarks on some problems and limits of economic guidance. In: Beyond Market and Hierarchy: Interactive Governance and Social Complexity, ed. Amin, A. & Hausner, J., pp. 111147. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.
Keough, H.L. & Blahna, D.J. (2006) Achieving integrative, collaborative ecosystem management. Conservation Biology 20: 13731382.
Lawrence, R. & Daniels, S.E. (1997) Procedural justice and public involvement in natural resource decision making. Society & Natural Resources 10: 577590.
Leopold, A. (1933) Game Management. Reprinted 1966. Dehra Dun, India: Natraj Publishers.
Lukes, S. (1974) Power: a Radical View. London, UK: Macmillan.
Martin, J-L., Stockton, S.A., Allombert, S. & Gaston, A.J. (2010) Top-down and bottom-up consequences of unchecked ungulate browsing on plant and animal diversity in temperate forests: lessons from a deer introduction. Biological Invasions 12: 353371.
Mason, J. (2002) Qualitative Researching, second edition. London, UK: Sage Publications.
Prell, C., Reed, M., Racin, L. & Hubacek, K. (2010) Competing structure, competing views: the role of formal and informal social structures in shaping stakeholder perceptions. Ecology and Society 15: 34 [www document]. URL
Raik, D.B., Lauber, T.B., Decker, D.J. & Brown, T.L. (2005 a) Managing community controversy in suburban wildlife management: adopting practices that address value differences. Human Dimensions of Wildlife 10: 109122.
Raik, D.B., Siemer, W.F. & Decker, D.J. (2005 b) Intervention and capacity considerations in community-based deer management: the stakeholders’ perspective. Human Dimensions of Wildlife 10: 259272.
Reed, M.S., Graves, A., Dandy, N., Posthumus, H., Hubacek, K., Morris, J., Prell, C., Quinn, C.H. & Stringer, L.C. (2009) Who's in and why? A typology of stakeholder analysis methods for natural resource management. Journal of Environmental Management, 90: 1933–49.
Robinson, C.J., Margerum, R.D., Koontz, T.M., Moseley, C. & Lurie, S. (2011) Policy-level collaboratives for environmental management at the regional scale: lessons and challenges from Australia and the United States. Society & Natural Resources 24: 849859.
Robson, C. (2002) Real World Research, second edition. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing.
Rural Economy and Land Use Programme (no date) Collaborative Deer Management: RES-227-25-0014 [www document].
Sabatier, P., Focht, W., Lubell, M., Trachtenberg, Z., Vedlitz, A. & Matlock, M., eds (2005) Swimming Upstream: Collaborative Approaches to Watershed Management. Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press.
Sabatier, P.A. & Shaw, L.K. (2009) Are collaborative watershed management groups democratic? An analysis of California and Washington partnerships. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 64: 61A64A.
Schattschneider, E.E. (1960) The Semi-Sovereign People: A Realist's View of Democracy in America. New York, NY, USA: Holt, Reinhart and Winston.
Taiepa, T., Lyver, P., Horsley, P., David, J., Brag, M. & Moller, H. (1997) Comanagement of New Zealand's conservation estate by Maori and Pakeha: a review. Environmental Conservation 24: 236250.
Thompson, R.N., Humphrey, J.W., Harmer, R. & Ferris, R. (2003) Restoration of native woodland on ancient woodland sites. Forestry Commission Practice Guide, Forestry Commission, Edinburgh, UK.
Ward, A.I. (2005) Expanding ranges of wild and feral deer in Great Britain. Mammal Review 35: 165173.
Warren, C.R. & McKee, A. (2011) The Scottish revolution? Evaluating the impacts of post-devolution land reform. Scottish Geographical Journal 127: 1739.
Wolf, E.R. (1999) Envisioning Power: Ideologies of Dominance and Crisis. London, UK: University of California Press.
Wolf, S.A. & Primmer, E. (2006) Between incentives and action: a pilot study of biodiversity conservation competencies for multifunctional forest management in Finland. Society & Natural Resources 19: 845–61.
Wondolleck, J. & Yaffee, S. (2000) Making Collaboration Work. Washington, DC, USA: Island Press.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Environmental Conservation
  • ISSN: 0376-8929
  • EISSN: 1469-4387
  • URL: /core/journals/environmental-conservation
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed