5 - Social network analysis for stakeholder selection and the links to social learning and adaptive co-management  pp. 95-118

Social network analysis for stakeholder selection and the links to social learning and adaptive co-management

By Christina Prell, Mark Reed and Klaus Hubacek

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Introduction

There is now widespread recognition in the academic and wider community that those who are affected by, or who have the power to affect environmental decision-making processes, have a right to be consulted (e.g. the EU’s Aarhus Convention enshrines this right in law). There is also growing evidence that their involvement may enhance the quality of decisions made (Prell et al., 2008). However, these benefits depend upon appropriate representation of stakeholders, and this poses significant challenges. In many cases, the population of stakeholders is unknown, and thus, locating a representative sample is difficult. In addition, different stakeholders are likely to have different views about what are the relevant issues, and who are the most relevant parties to invite to the table. In this chapter, we put forward social network analysis as a complementary tool to help unravel who is a relevant stakeholder. In doing so, we argue that including a network analysis of stakeholders demonstrates another dimension to the idea of “diversity” in considering “wide representation” of stakeholders. In addition to trying to capture a diversity of perspectives from diverse stakeholder categories, we argue for considerations of diversity based on social networks, i.e. diverse positions within a wider network structure, and demonstrate how social network analysis can be used for uncovering such positions.

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