Landscape of Hope: The influence of place and social capital on collaborative action in sustainable management

  • Author / Creator
    Patriquin, Donelda L.
  • Collaboration offers promise for sustainable development, particularly in cases where direct involvement of affected stakeholders is essential. The actor network theory (ANT) process of translation explains how diverse interests could unite to solve environmental problems. This unique theoretical approach allows a role for human actors and non-human (material) intermediaries to organize, mobilize and spread innovation. Yet mechanisms by which these actors and ‘actants’ might negotiate cooperation are only beginning to be explored. Similarly, social capital research suggests that trust, reciprocation and networks might play a role in successful collaboration, while place-based governance research also suggests place can motivate cooperative action. This thesis analyzes a qualitative case study of a 10-year voluntary collaboration among government, non-governmental organizations and academic researchers to explore the role of social capital and place as potential mechanisms in facilitating collaboration. Using semi-structured- interviews, a photo-elicitation exercise, a policy overview and content analysis of presentations from this period, I examine the role of social capital and place in group formation and mobilization for three key projects, through a theoretical lens of ANT translation. My results indicate both factors played a role in facilitating collaboration. Strategic use of available social capital and place-making by key actors with persuasive skills overcame cultural and human barriers imposed by context to facilitate an agreement to cooperate. Other key actors contributed to the stabilization and mobilization of the group, which sustained the group, achieved immediate goals and built social capital for new initiatives, including a sense of individual empowerment. Shared place identity created by place-making motivated cooperation with minimal conflict: participants’ place meanings merged with the shared identity to create nuanced, supportive motivations. The individual empowerment resulting from successful projects encouraged participants to reinvest in the group, or apply new knowledge elsewhere. Within the context of the ANT translation process, this case study demonstrated mechanisms to facilitate, sustain and propagate collaboration, and provided empirical evidence of the theorized diffusion of innovation from micro to macro society.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2014
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.