Developing a collaborative model for environmental planning and management
Methods for involving the public in natural resource management are changing as agencies adjust to an increasingly turbulent social and political environment. There is growing interest among managers and scholars in collaborative approaches to public involvement. Collaboration is conceptually defined and elaborated using examples from the natural resource management field. This paper then examines how collaboration theory from the organizational behavior field can help environmental managers to better understand those factors that facilitate and inhibit collaborative solutions to resource problems. A process-oriented model is presented that proposes that collaboration emerges out of an environmental context and then proceeds sequentially through a problem-setting, direction-setting, and structuring phase. Factors constraining collaboration are also specified, including organizational culture and power differentials. Designs for managing collaboration are identified, which include appreciative planning, joint agreements, dialogues, and negotiated settlements. Environmental managers need new skills to manage collaboration within a dynamic social and political environment. Further research is needed to test the propositions outlined here.