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Summary: Addressing the Interactional Challenges of Moving Collaborative Adaptive Management From Theory to Practice

Kathi K. Beratan, North Carolina State University


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Translating the attractive concept of collaborative adaptive management (CAM) into practice has proven very difficult. The papers included in this Special Feature explore why this is true and suggest how the challenges might be addressed. This summary highlights common themes, major challenges, and implications for research and practice. Many of the included papers emphasize the central importance of collaboration and stakeholder engagement as a response to complexity and uncertainty. Collectively, the papers make the case that a lack of knowledge about how to manage the human dynamics of comanagement poses a major challenge to implementing CAM. Human activities are the primary drivers of system change in most natural resource management systems, so attention to human dynamics is essential for developing useful change hypotheses and leading indicators that can provide useful and timely feedback for adaptive management. Institutions need to evolve to support adaptive and collaborative management processes. This will require thoughtful design of CAM processes, along with commitment of sufficient time and resources. Implementation challenges should be considered as a major focus for research rather than as simply barriers to progress. More effective ways of capturing practitioners’ experiential knowledge are required to improve the practice of CAM. This Special Feature suggests that the concept of a CAM practitioners’ journal has promise, but realization of that promise will require careful attention to the needs of and constraints on practitioners.

Key words

collaborative adaptive management; institutional change; leading indicators; process design; stakeholder participation

Copyright © 2014 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work 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