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Policy, project and operational networks: Channels and conduits for learning in forest biodiversity conservation


  • Primmer, Eeva


For understanding new governance and its opportunities for supplementing government driven policy, networks are an important mechanism and unit of analysis. The theoretical bases for analysing policy networks, project networks, and operational networks overlap in a random fashion. This paper reviews and compares the theoretical approaches utilised in analysing networks and their perspectives on learning. Policy, project and operational networks are exemplified in the context of integrating biodiversity conservation into forest policy in Finland. Information flow and appreciation among network organisations are analysed with the aim of understanding how the formality and openness of information exchange shape learning mechanisms, and the capacity of the networks to adapt to the policy demand for biodiversity conservation. The policy, project and operational networks generate partly different mechanisms for learning. While project networks utilise both direct and open access to up-to-date research-based understanding of biodiversity conservation and bridge across sector-boundaries, policy networks are more strongly reliant on formal patterns of information exchange and communicate interests at a level distanced from practice. Operational networks on the other hand, have strong informal contacts but their biodiversity conservation learning relies on information flows through conduit-like closed links. Reliance on channels and allowing spill-overs can improve adaptation and explorative learning. Where information exchange is formally defined, informal ties can ease the tackling of emerging issues.

Suggested Citation

  • Primmer, Eeva, 2011. "Policy, project and operational networks: Channels and conduits for learning in forest biodiversity conservation," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 132-142.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:forpol:v:13:y:2011:i:2:p:132-142
    DOI: 10.1016/j.forpol.2010.06.006

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. P Healey, 1998. "Building institutional capacity through collaborative approaches to urban planning," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 30(9), pages 1531-1546, September.
    2. Menguc, Bulent & Ozanne, Lucie K., 2005. "Challenges of the "green imperative": a natural resource-based approach to the environmental orientation-business performance relationship," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 58(4), pages 430-438, April.
    3. Krott, Max & Hasanagas, Nicolas D., 2006. "Measuring bridges between sectors: Causative evaluation of cross-sectorality," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(5), pages 555-563, July.
    4. Elliott, Chris & Schlaepfer, Rodolphe, 2001. "Understanding forest certification using the Advocacy Coalition Framework," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(3-4), pages 257-266, July.
    5. Moffat, Steverson O. & Cubbage, Frederick W. & Holmes, Thomas P. & O'Sullivan, Elizabethann, 2001. "Characterizing the sustainable forestry issue network in the United States," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(3-4), pages 307-318, July.
    6. Primmer, Eeva & Kyllonen, Simo, 2006. "Goals for public participation implied by sustainable development, and the preparatory process of the Finnish National Forest Programme," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(8), pages 838-853, November.
    7. P Healey, 1998. "Building Institutional Capacity through Collaborative Approaches to Urban Planning," Environment and Planning A, , vol. 30(9), pages 1531-1546, September.
    8. Primmer, Eeva & Karppinen, Heimo, 2010. "Professional judgment in non-industrial private forestry: Forester attitudes and social norms influencing biodiversity conservation," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 136-146, February.
    9. Vatn, Arild, 2009. "An institutional analysis of methods for environmental appraisal," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(8-9), pages 2207-2215, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:spr:jenvss:v:7:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s13412-017-0428-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:eee:forpol:v:89:y:2018:i:c:p:87-97 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Górriz-Mifsud, Elena & Secco, Laura & Pisani, Elena, 2016. "Exploring the interlinkages between governance and social capital: A dynamic model for forestry," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 25-36.
    4. Primmer, Eeva & Paloniemi, Riikka & Similä, Jukka & Tainio, Anna, 2014. "Forest owner perceptions of institutions and voluntary contracting for biodiversity conservation: Not crowding out but staying out," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 1-10.
    5. repec:eee:forpol:v:85:y:2017:i:p2:p:256-268 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. repec:eee:ecoser:v:16:y:2015:i:c:p:158-166 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Hasanagas, Nikolaos D., 2016. "Managing information in forest policy networks: Distinguishing the influential actors from the “postmen”," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 73-80.
    8. Borg, Riikka & Toikka, Arho & Primmer, Eeva, 2015. "Social capital and governance: a social network analysis of forest biodiversity collaboration in Central Finland," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 90-97.


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