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Measuring the dimensions of adaptive capacity: a psychometric approach

Michael Lockwood, Geography and Spatial Sciences, School of Land and Food, University of Tasmania
Christopher M. Raymond, Geography and Spatial Sciences, School of Land and Food, University of Tasmania; Centre for Regulation and Market Analysis and Barbara Hardy Institute, University of South Australia; Enviroconnect
Eddie Oczkowski, School of Accounting and Finance, Charles Sturt University
Mark Morrison, School of Management and Marketing, Charles Sturt University


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Although previous studies have examined adaptive capacity using a range of self-assessment procedures, no objective self-report approaches have been used to identify the dimensions of adaptive capacity and their relative importance. We examine the content, structure, and relative importance of dimensions of adaptive capacity as perceived by rural landholders in an agricultural landscape in South-Eastern Australia. Our findings indicate that the most important dimensions influencing perceived landholder adaptive capacity are related to their management style, particularly their change orientation. Other important dimensions are individual financial capacity, labor availability, and the capacity of communities and local networks to support landholders’ management practices. Trust and confidence in government with respect to native vegetation management was not found to be a significant dimension of perceived adaptive capacity. The scale items presented, particularly those with high factor loadings, provide a solid foundation for assessment of adaptive capacity in other study areas, as well as exploration of relationships between the individual dimensions of adaptive capacity and dependent variables such as perceived resilience. Further work is needed to refine the scale items and compare the findings from this case study with those from other contexts and population samples.

Key words

adaptive capacity; psychometric scales; rural landholders; structural equation modelling

Copyright © 2015 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