Trust, confidence, and equity affect the legitimacy of natural resource governance

Turner, Rachel A., Addison, Jane, Arias, Adrian, Bergseth, Brock J., Marshall, Nadine A., Morrison, Tiffany H., and Tobin, Renae C. (2016) Trust, confidence, and equity affect the legitimacy of natural resource governance. Ecology and Society, 21 (3).

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Abstract

Social-ecological systems are often highly complex, making effective governance a considerable challenge. In large, heterogeneous systems, hierarchical institutional regimes may be efficient, but effective management outcomes are dependent on stakeholder support. This support is shaped by perceptions of legitimacy, which risks being undermined where resource users are not engaged in decision-making. Although legitimacy is demonstrably critical for effective governance, less is known about the factors contributing to stakeholders' perceptions of legitimacy or how these perceptions are socially differentiated. We quantitatively assessed stakeholder perceptions of legitimacy (indicated by support for rules) and their contributory factors among 307 commercial fishers and tourism operators in Australia's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Legitimacy was most strongly associated with trust in information from governing bodies, followed by confidence in institutional performance and the equity of management outcomes. Legitimacy differed both within and among resource user groups, which emphasizes the heterogeneous nature of commonly defined stakeholder groups. Overall, tourism operators perceived higher legitimacy than did commercial fishers, which was associated with higher trust in information from management agencies. For fishers, higher levels of trust were associated with: (1) engagement in fisheries that had high subsector cohesion and positive previous experiences of interactions with governing bodies; (2) location in areas with greater proximity to sources of knowledge, resources, and decision-making; and (3) engagement in a Reef Guardian program. These findings highlight the necessity of strategies and processes to build trust among all user groups in large social-ecological systems such as the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Furthermore, the social differentiation of perceptions that were observed within user groups underscores the importance of targeted strategies to engage groups that may not be heard through traditional governance channels.

Item ID: 46407
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: fisheries, Great Barrier Reef, justice, marine conservation, tourism, trust
ISSN: 1708-3087
Funders: NERP
Date Deposited: 16 Nov 2016 07:30
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1608 Sociology > 160802 Environmental Sociology @ 40%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1606 Political Science > 160605 Environmental Politics @ 30%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050209 Natural Resource Management @ 30%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9606 Environmental and Natural Resource Evaluation > 960604 Environmental Management Systems @ 30%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9607 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards > 960701 Coastal and Marine Management Policy @ 30%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society @ 40%
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