IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Using the generalised Q method in ecological economics: A better way to capture representative values and perspectives in ecosystem service management


  • Grimsrud, Kristine
  • Graesse, Maximo
  • Lindhjem, Henrik


The Q-method identifies groups of people with similar or diverging perspectives and is increasingly used for analysing resource conflicts. However, it is uninformative on the prevalence of perspectives in the general population. The Norwegian government considers planting spruce climate forests on abandoned pastures, the habitat for many red listed species. We identify three prevailing stakeholder perspectives in the climate forest debate using the Q method; one pro climate forest and two against with differing motivations. Using the so-called scale creation method (Danielson, 2009) and a national survey, we measure the support of the general population for these perspectives and elicit their concern for ecosystem services. About half of the sample is pro climate forest. Opposition is greater in regions where spruce is uncommon and abandoned pastures are common. The impact of climate forests on biodiversity and landscapes is a concern. Conflicts would be dampened if climate forest policy took impacts on landscape aesthetics and biodiversity better into account. Our proposed generalised Q method combines two strengths: the depth of the Q method with the breadth of the general population survey. The method demonstrates a way forward in ecological economics to better capture representative values and perspectives in ecosystem service management and help design climate and environmental policies with greater acceptance.

Suggested Citation

  • Grimsrud, Kristine & Graesse, Maximo & Lindhjem, Henrik, 2020. "Using the generalised Q method in ecological economics: A better way to capture representative values and perspectives in ecosystem service management," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 170(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:170:y:2020:i:c:s0921800919310845
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2019.106588

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Barrena, José & Nahuelhual, Laura & Báez, Andrea & Schiappacasse, Ignacio & Cerda, Claudia, 2014. "Valuing cultural ecosystem services: Agricultural heritage in Chiloé island, southern Chile," Ecosystem Services, Elsevier, vol. 7(C), pages 66-75.
    2. Swedeen, Paula, 2006. "Post-normal science in practice: A Q study of the potential for sustainable forestry in Washington State, USA," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 190-208, May.
    3. Davies, Ben B. & Hodge, Ian D., 2012. "Shifting environmental perspectives in agriculture: Repeated Q analysis and the stability of preference structures," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 51-57.
    4. Bredin, Yennie K. & Lindhjem, Henrik & van Dijk, Jiska & Linnell, John D.C., 2015. "Mapping value plurality towards ecosystem services in the case of Norwegian wildlife management: A Q analysis," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 198-206.
    5. Sy, Mariam Maki & Rey-Valette, Hélène & Simier, Monique & Pasqualini, Vanina & Figuières, Charles & De Wit, Rutger, 2018. "Identifying Consensus on Coastal Lagoons Ecosystem Services and Conservation Priorities for an Effective Decision Making: A Q Approach," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 154(C), pages 1-13.
    6. Barry, John & Proops, John, 1999. "Seeking sustainability discourses with Q methodology," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 337-345, March.
    7. Hermelingmeier, Verena & Nicholas, Kimberly A., 2017. "Identifying Five Different Perspectives on the Ecosystem Services Concept Using Q Methodology," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 136(C), pages 255-265.
    8. Cuppen, Eefje & Breukers, Sylvia & Hisschemöller, Matthijs & Bergsma, Emmy, 2010. "Q methodology to select participants for a stakeholder dialogue on energy options from biomass in the Netherlands," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(3), pages 579-591, January.
    9. Armatas, Christopher A. & Venn, Tyron J. & Watson, Alan E., 2014. "Applying Q-methodology to select and define attributes for non-market valuation: A case study from Northwest Wyoming, United States," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 447-456.
    10. Aiora Zabala & Unai Pascual, 2016. "Bootstrapping Q Methodology to Improve the Understanding of Human Perspectives," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 11(2), pages 1-19, February.
    11. Spash, Clive L., 2013. "The shallow or the deep ecological economics movement?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 351-362.
    12. Kristine Grimsrud & Henrik Lindhjem & Ingvild Vestre Sem & Knut Einar Rosendahl, 2019. "Public acceptance and willingness to pay cost-effective taxes on red meat and road traffic in Norway," Discussion Papers 909, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    13. Iniesta-Arandia, Irene & García-Llorente, Marina & Aguilera, Pedro A. & Montes, Carlos & Martín-López, Berta, 2014. "Socio-cultural valuation of ecosystem services: uncovering the links between values, drivers of change, and human well-being," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 36-48.
    14. Niedziałkowski, Krzysztof & Komar, Ewa & Pietrzyk-Kaszyńska, Agata & Olszańska, Agnieszka & Grodzińska-Jurczak, Małgorzata, 2018. "Discourses on Public Participation in Protected Areas Governance: Application of Q Methodology in Poland," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 145(C), pages 401-409.
    15. Henrik Lindhjem & Kristine Grimsrud & Ståle Navrud & Stein Olav Kolle, 2015. "The social benefits and costs of preserving forest biodiversity and ecosystem services," Journal of Environmental Economics and Policy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 4(2), pages 202-222, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Q Method; Values; Climate change; Forest; Conservation; Ecosystem services;

    JEL classification:

    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • Q57 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Ecological Economics
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:170:y:2020:i:c:s0921800919310845. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Haili He). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.