Co-management, or the joint management of the commons, is often formulated in terms of some arrangement of power sharing between the State and a community of resource users. In reality, there often are multiple local interests and multiple government agencies at play, and co-management can hardly be understood as the interaction of a unitary State and a homogeneous community. An approach focusing on the legal aspects of co-management, and emphasizing the formal structure of arrangements (how governance is configured) runs the risk of neglecting the functional side of co-management. An alternative approach is to start from the assumption that co-management is a continuous problem-solving process , rather than a fixed state, involving extensive deliberation, negotiation and joint learning within problem-solving networks. This presumption implies that co-management research should preferably focus on how different management tasks are organized and distributed concentrating on the function , rather than the structure, of the system. Such an approach has the effect of highlighting that power sharing is the result , and not the starting point, of the process. This kind of research approach might employ the steps of (1) defining the social-ecological system under focus; (2) mapping the essential management tasks and problems to be solved; (3) clarifying the participants in the problem-solving processes; (4) analyzing linkages in the system, in particular across levels of organization and across geographical space; (5) evaluating capacity-building needs for enhancing the skills and capabilities of people and institutions at various levels; and (6) prescribing ways to improve policy making and problem-solving.
Journal of Environmental Management – Elsevier
Published: Apr 1, 2005
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