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Co-management: Managing Relationships, Not Resources

Natcher, David C.; Davis, Susan; Hickey, Clifford G.



Human Organization



Conclusions drawn from the body of co-management research generally agree that cultural diversity can enhance the pool of human resources from which management decisions are drawn. Based on the belief that group heterogeneity will generate a diverse set of problem-based solutions, co-management is being heralded as an emergent intellectual tradition to guide the stewardship of natural resources. However, research has yet to show under what conditions and at what cultural consequence indigenous representatives are able to express themselves. Nor has it been shown how cultural biases, including perceptions of the 'other,' influence group behavior. Based on research involving the Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation (Yukon Territory), this paper explores whether cultural differences either enhance or hinder the working-group effectiveness of resource co-management boards established under Canada's comprehensive land claims process. In doing so, we identify some of the 'hidden' conflicts that can occur when culturally diverse groups, with fundamentally different value systems and colonial histories, enter into a coordinated resource management process.

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