Table 2 Evaluation of the SCoP’s impact related to the challenges of participatory processes in NRM. To what extent this SCoP helps to produce specified outcomes that respond to these challenges are interpreted as follows: +++ = great impact; ++ = reasonable impact; + = little impact; +/- = no discernible impact.

Key challenges related to participatory processes in NRM Outcomes of the SCoP that respond to these challenges
Implementing a multidisciplinary approach to understand and manage wicked problems or “messes” +
The SCoP brings people together from various backgrounds, disciplines, and levels of experience, who jointly discuss the context and problem scope of interventions, simulate a proposed participatory method, and take part in debriefing discussions. Indeed, the organizers “open” their methodologies to the other participants who can criticize them according to their own perspectives. Because this takes place early in the intervention process, the organizers are more prone to reflect on their own boundary judgments and be able to adapt their methodologies according to participants’ analyses and joint discussions.
Designing the participatory process and choosing the appropriate methods +/ ++ (depending on the “room to maneuver”)
The sessions allow the organizers to address strategic issues about what to do, why and how, with participants external to their projects. First, organizers benefit from participants’ experiences and can thus minimize the risk of making poor decisions in their processes. Next, sensitive questions can be addressed in a constructive way, allowing the organizers to confront their logic of intervention with others’ perceptions, and thus reinforce or adapt it. Finally, a space of creativity is created, allowing organizers and participants to generate new ideas to improve the processes being discussed. All of these aspects allow the “co-engineering” (Daniell et al. 2010b) of the organizer’s process to be supported.
Identifying and deciding who participates +
During the simulation phase of the sessions, it is sometimes possible to see if some specific interests are missing from the substance of the participatory methods or if the process potentially goes against any of the targeted stakeholders’ interests. Ways of managing these issues and proposing how stakeholders might be selected can then be worked through.
Understanding participants’ interests in participating ++
By simulating the roles of the future stakeholders, the potential motivations, interests and hidden agendas of participants are sometimes brought into the open. This allows the facilitator to learn about possible participant reactions to the process or needs for the workshop.
Calibrating participatory methods and tools for workshops +++
By testing the methods and tools, it becomes obvious to what extent they work for the desired purpose. At the very least, the simulation process provides some good insights into what needs to be improved and how this might be done. Participants can provide their expertise to the organizers and thus contribute to and support, using their own practical experiences, the calibration of the methods and tools.
Developing facilitator skills +++
By simulating the facilitation of the workshop, the organizers are able to train themselves in the use of the participatory method/tools, as well as improve their facilitation skills in general by managing possible complicated behavior of the stakeholders (e.g., questioning the objectives of the workshop or those of the process, questioning the legitimacy of the facilitator, creating trouble, being distracted, arguing).
Clarifying the values that guide the intervention, including in relation to power asymmetries +
By playing the roles of the stakeholders, the participants can more easily debate the values behind the intervention, as they directly experience the method and its impacts. The discussions during the debriefing can then address the objectives of the intervention, helping the organizers to clarify their hypotheses and positioning related to the field site and stakeholders.
Clarifying to what extent decision makers are ready to take into account the stakeholders’ opinions +/-
This is a difficult issue to address during the SCoP sessions, as this kind of information generally goes beyond participants’ understanding of the case study. However, it is common for participants to probe organizers with questions on this topic in an attempt to drive critical reflection and mutual understanding.
Identifying various outcomes of the process that are not always planned +
By playing the roles of stakeholders, participants can gauge the possible impacts that the process can have on individuals and the group involved in the simulation (e.g., feelings of discomfort, levels of learning, conflict management, connections created between participants). Participants can also suggest means for evaluating the field intervention or for testing evaluation procedures in the sessions.