The interaction triangle as a tool for understanding stakeholder interactions in marine ecosystem based management
Expectations about ecosystem based management (EBM) differ due to diverging perspectives about what EBM should be and how it should work. While EBM by its nature requires trade-offs to be made between ecological, economic and social sustainability criteria, the diversity of cross-sectoral perspectives, values, stakes, and the specificity of each individual situation determine the outcome of these trade-offs. The authors strive to raise awareness of the importance of interaction between three stakeholder groups (decision makers, scientists, and other actors) and argue that choosing appropriate degrees of interaction between them in a transparent way can make EBM more effective in terms of the three effectiveness criteria salience, legitimacy, and credibility. This article therefore presents an interaction triangle in which three crucial dimensions of stakeholder interactions are discussed: (A) between decision makers and scientists, who engage in framing to foster salience of scientific input to decision making, (B) between decision makers and other actors, to shape participation processes to foster legitimacy of EBM processes, and (C) between scientists and other actors, who collaborate to foster credibility of knowledge production. Due to the complexity of EBM, there is not one optimal interaction approach; rather, finding the optimal degrees of interaction for each dimension depends on the context in which EBM is implemented, i.e. the EBM objectives, the EBM initiator’s willingness for transparency and interaction, and other context-specific factors, such as resources, trust, and state of knowledge.
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