Environmental Management

, Volume 28, Issue 6, pp 713–725 | Cite as

Coping with Change: The Small Experiment as a Strategic Approach to Environmental Sustainability



The patterns of living, planning, and resource utilization as practiced in Western countries for decades are not sustainable; change of some sort is essential. But what changes are appropriate, and, perhaps more important, will people accept them? The small experiment framework provides a strategy for meeting the challenge of change. By encouraging participation, limiting the scale of initial change, and incorporating some aspects of the familiar, many of the difficulties that make change so problematic can be mitigated or even eliminated. An exploration, from a psychological perspective, of the characteristic difficulties surrounding potential change provides the context for a discussion of the components of the small experiment and an analysis of how these elements address these characteristic challenges. A comparison to adaptive management is drawn, and several concrete examples illustrate how the strategy has been used successfully to address a variety of environmental problems.

KEY WORDS: Sustainability; Participation; Experiment; Local scale; Adaptive management; Environmental problem solving 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 2001

Authors and Affiliations

    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan, 430 E. University, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1115, USAUS
  2. 2.Departments of Psychology and Computer Science and Engineering, University of Michigan, 525 E. University, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1109, USAUS

Personalised recommendations