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Organizational Learning and the Fate of Adaptive Management in the US Forest Service

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Learning is a fundamental driver and product of adaptive management. We measured organizational learning attributes in a survey of US Forest Service employees in 2008 to assess the agency learning environment by organizational hierarchy and work unit in the agency and to benchmark the US Forest Service against other external organizations. We found that positive organizational learning attributes are unevenly distributed throughout the agency's work units and hierarchy. US Forest Service managers experience a stronger learning environment than staff, and work units in the National Forest System have significantly weaker learning environments than research stations and state and private forestry. Furthermore, US Forest Service learning attributes fall below the median compared with external benchmark scores. We offer some general suggestions for improving the learning environment in the agency but we are not optimistic about adaptive management implementation without further development of the basic building blocks of learning in the US Forest Service.

Keywords: Forest Service; adaptive management; learning; organization

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2010

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.

    2015 Impact Factor: 1.476
    Ranking: 22 of 66 in forestry

    Also published by SAF:
    Forest Science
    Other SAF Publications
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