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Boosters of and barriers to smooth communication in family forest owners' decision making

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The internationally recognized need to adjust non-industrial private forest policies inspired this study, which seeks a deeper understanding of the communication around decision making among family forest owners. Elements of smooth communication constituted the theoretical basis. The data comprised transcripts of 30 semi-structured in-depth interviews with Finnish family forest owners. Narrative statements associated with information exchange and discussions between people were investigated with the aim of assessing instances and implications of personal relationships, advising services and mediated interaction in the social system of decision making. The analysis was conducted by combining theory- and data-driven approaches. The role of personal face-to-face communication with trusted advisors proved essential. However, some interviewees found internet services and online peer-to-peer communication tempting. The interviewed family forest owners are more or less self-directive in obtaining general information about timber trading or topical forestry issues, but for specific decisions they desire profound, socially reliant consultancy. Elements of distrust and limited comprehension, and tension between service and actual needs seem to be the greatest communicative barriers reducing the supportiveness of consultancy. Communicative decision support services for family forest owners should be developed on the grounds of reliable atmosphere, sense of fellowship, contextuality, customer care and facilitation for peer networking.
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Keywords: Advice; Finland; consulting; forest planning; forest policy; relations; trust

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Finnish Forest Research Institute Metla, Joensuu Research Unit, Finland 2: Oulu University of Applied Sciences, School of Renewable Natural Resources, Oulu, Finland

Publication date: 2008-10-01

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