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Stakeholder Collaboration and Organizational Innovation in the Planning of the Deschutes Estuary Feasibility Study

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Coastal managers have sought to enhance the collaborative inputs of stakeholder groups into management activities. Nonetheless, established organizational approaches have led to primarily consultative forms of engagement and constrained citizen involvement in formative activities. In Olympia, Washington, managers overseeing the Deschutes Estuary Feasibility Study (DEFS) implemented an innovative cooperative research planning initiative that diverged from conventional consultative processes. Stakeholders, rather than government officials, identified the research priorities for the socioeconomic component of this restoration feasibility study. This design method altered the traditional roles and responsibilities of different organizational actors, and the involvement of citizen groups in these formative activities changed the relationship between governmental and nongovernmental actors. Using conceptual frameworks from organizational sociology, this study develops insights into the behavior of the organizations involved with the DEFS cooperative planning effort, demonstrating how engaging stakeholders in formative research planning activities may foster new types of collaboration among coastal management organizations.

Keywords: Washington State; collaboration; cooperative research; estuary restoration; organizational behavior; stakeholder involvement

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Sociology & UNH Marine Program, University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire, USA 2: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Intergovernmental Resource Management, Olympia, Washington, USA 3: Human Dimensions Program, IMSG/NOAA Coastal Services Center, Charleston, South Carolina, USA

Publication date: November 1, 2009

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