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Devine, Stewart, 2016. Investigating communication and participatory processes in decision making : a study of the Swedish Forest Agency. Second cycle, A2E. Uppsala: SLU, Dept. of Urban and Rural Development



Today, public participation has become mainstream when it comes to decision-making in natural resource management issues. The idea that science and experts hold all the answers is being disregarded in favour of more inclusive processes that should ideally include the views of all interested parties. The forest industry is one such example and the Swedish Forest Agency (SFA) have had, since 1905, the role making sure that forestry is practiced according to forest law as well as offering expert advice to forest owners when needed. In 2000, the SFA were given the task from the Swedish government to carry out ‘Målbilder för god miljöhänsyn’ (objectives for good environmental practice), which was to be a collaborative project together with interested parties from the forest industry. The goal, to reach consensus through participatory processes and this signalled a distinct change of direction with regards to how decisions should be made. As much of the literature on the subject of participation shows, there are different ways to carry out participatory processes and this is often related to how much power the participants have to influence the situation. Therefore it becomes even more relevant to investigate the SFA because they have traditionally had a very supervisory role in their work and it will be interesting to investigate how much this effects the participatory processes they create.
Based on semi-structured interviews with people who work with dialogue processes at the SFA, a qualitative study was carried out with the overall aim to investigate how the people working with participatory processes make sense of participation from their role at the SFA. By taking a social constructionist framework I believe that how individuals talk about something reflects how they act towards it. This means that the way individuals view communication holds the key to the development of a successful participatory process. Two main theoretical communication traditions are relevant to this research project; the one-way or transmission based view of communication and the dialogue view of communication which sees communication as a joint act of information sharing.
This study shows that the SFA is moving towards using participatory processes as one of its main working methods and how these participatory processes are designed and how much influence the participants have is dependent on the goal of the process. This study highlights the fact that the SFA have designed these processes through using a process of trial and error instead of making use of methods already available within literature and this has created several problems along the way. However, this study concludes that the SFA are on the right track and by combining their own knowledge together with some recommendations from literature then they will have every chance of success in the future.

Main title:Investigating communication and participatory processes in decision making
Subtitle:a study of the Swedish Forest Agency
Authors:Devine, Stewart
Supervisor:Ångman, Elin
Examiner:Joosse, Sofie
Volume/Sequential designation:UNSPECIFIED
Year of Publication:2016
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A2E
Student's programme affiliation:NM026 Environmental communication and management - Master's programme
Supervising department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
(LTJ, LTV) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
Keywords:communication, participation, Swedish Forest Agency, semi-structured interviews
Permanent URL:
Subject. Use of subject categories until 2023-04-30.:Organization, administration and management of agricultural enterprises or farms
Forestry - General aspects
Deposited On:01 Aug 2016 14:22
Metadata Last Modified:02 Aug 2016 07:22

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