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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.
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Keywords: Forest Service; adaptive management; learning; organization

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 December 2010

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