Key players in conservation diffusion: using social network analysis to identify critical injection points

Mbaru, Emmanuel K., and Barnes, Michele L. (2017) Key players in conservation diffusion: using social network analysis to identify critical injection points. Biological Conservation, 210. pp. 222-232.

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Identifying the right stakeholders to engage with is fundamental to ensuring conservation information and initiatives diffuse through target populations. Yet this process can be challenging, particularly as practitioners and policy makers grapple with different conservation objectives and a diverse landscape of relevant stakeholders. Here we draw on social network theory and methods to develop guidelines for selecting 'key players' better positioned to successfully implement four distinct conservation objectives: (1) rapid diffusion of conservation information, (2) diffusion between disconnected groups (3) rapid diffusion of complex knowledge or initiatives, or (4) widespread diffusion of conservation information or complex initiatives over a longer time period. Using complete network data among coastal fishers from six villages in Kenya, we apply this approach to select key players for each type of conservation objective. We then draw on key informant interviews from seven resource management and conservation organizations working along the Kenyan coast to investigate whether the socioeconomic attributes of the key players we identified match the ones typically selected to facilitate conservation diffusion (i.e., 'current players'). Our findings show clear discrepancies between current players and key players, highlighting missed opportunities for progressing more effective conservation diffusion. We conclude with specific criteria for selecting key stakeholders to facilitate each distinct conservation objective, thereby helping to mitigate the problem of stakeholder identification in ways that avoid blueprint approaches. These guidelines can also be applied in other research and intervention areas, such as community development studies, participatory research, and community intervention.

Item ID: 50674
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1873-2917
Keywords: conservation, diffusion, key players, social network analysis, social-ecological systems
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A version of this publication was included as Chapter 4 of the following PhD thesis: Mbaru, Emmanuel Kakunde (2018) Diffusion of a gear-based conservation innovation: adoption patterns and social - ecological outcomes. PhD thesis, James Cook University, which is available Open Access in ResearchOnline@JCU. Please see the Related URLs for access.

Funders: Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA), National Science Foundation (NSF)
Projects and Grants: WIOMSA MASMA/OP/2014/04, NSF #1513354
Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2017 10:58
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410401 Conservation and biodiversity @ 50%
44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4410 Sociology > 441002 Environmental sociology @ 30%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410406 Natural resource management @ 20%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 40%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970105 Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental Sciences @ 30%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9607 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards > 960701 Coastal and Marine Management Policy @ 30%
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