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Interdisciplinary collaboration within project-level NEPA teams in the US Forest Service


  • James Freeman
  • Marc Stern
  • Michael Mortimer
  • Dale Blahna
  • Lee Cerveny


Interdisciplinary teamwork has become a foundation of natural resources planning and management in the US. Yet, we know little about the degree of interdisciplinary collaboration of natural resource planning teams. We conducted 10 case studies of Forest Service NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) teams working on projects related to the 2005 Travel Management Rule. Although teams' critical tasks were similar, we found wide variation in interdisciplinary teamwork approaches. We propose three typologies of teamwork processes and discuss relationships between teams' work approaches and process outcomes. Rather than being easily labelled as holistically 'collaborative' or 'non-collaborative', teams may more typically move in and out of different modes of collaboration (or non-collaboration) throughout the different stages of teamwork processes. Results suggest that greater external pressure may lead teams to adopt a more internally collaborative approach and that empowering leadership styles may enhance the success of more collaborative approaches in terms of perceived outcomes. Future research on the relationships between extra-team context, team collaboration, and leadership styles may provide insight into the drivers of outcomes in natural resource planning teams.

Suggested Citation

  • James Freeman & Marc Stern & Michael Mortimer & Dale Blahna & Lee Cerveny, 2011. "Interdisciplinary collaboration within project-level NEPA teams in the US Forest Service," Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 54(5), pages 597-615.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jenpmg:v:54:y:2011:i:5:p:597-615
    DOI: 10.1080/09640568.2010.525024

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