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Charting the New Territory of Adaptive Co-management: A Delphi Study

Ryan Plummer, Brock University
Derek R Armitage, Wilfrid Laurier University


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Complex systems understanding implies a world characterized by dynamic, nonlinear interactions, discontinuities, and surprises. Such conditions are not amenable to conventional resource management approaches that stress command-and-control, and therefore, novel governance approaches more suited to complexity and uncertainty are required. Adaptive co-management has emerged as an interdisciplinary response to this need, and blends the adaptive management and collaborative management narratives. However, concepts associated with adaptive co-management are relatively new and quickly expanding from multiple perspectives. The objective of this paper is to take stock of this relatively recent concept and synthesize current thinking in terms of: (1) the core components of adaptive co-management, (2) emerging research directions, (3) the barriers to implementation of adaptive co-management, and (4) criteria for success.

To explore these four areas, a three-round, classical Delphi process was administered with an expert panel of 30 individuals. All members of the expert panel initially responded to open-ended questions, and the qualitative results were analyzed using QSR NVIVO. The subsequent two rounds of the Delphi required quantitative responses in which the expert panel was asked to indicate the level of importance using a seven point likert scale associated with specific items. Results of the Delphi survey reveal a high degree of consensus on several core areas within this emerging interdisciplinary governance approach. Results of this research should foster precision with respect to employment of the term, foster scholarly discourse, and indicate areas of practical importance to adaptive co-management.

Key words

adaptive co-management; adaptive management; collaboration; Delphi method; environmental governance.

Copyright © 2007 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087