Collaboration is a kind of social interaction involving direct and voluntary exchange of views among people. It aims at a shared representation of a situation, in order to explore solutions that take into account people’s constraints and interests. Unlike negotiation, collaboration does not necessarily aims at reaching decision-making; it happens beforehand. Collaboration is also different than consultation, where people are requested to give their opinion, but without necessarily discussing and exchanging their views.
In the field of natural resource management, collaboration is linked to the notion of participation, which refers to issues of social inclusion and equity. Participation aims indeed at including in a project or a decision making process all the concerned stakeholders. However, processes of collaboration and participation involve risks of domination and exclusion. Facilitation skills and methods are then required to enable the participants to have an equal capacity to participate and assert their opinion. Beside, collaboration is costly and time consuming, so it should be in people’s interest to participate. People usually decide to collaborate if they feel that they depend on each other to face a situation they perceive as important and urgent.
Collaboration has a major role to play in agroecological transitions, which involve multiple social interdependencies. Agroecology relies indeed on the provision of ecosystem services linked to ecological processes that often occur at the landscape level (e.g. water regulation at the watershed level, insect pest regulation at the landscape level). Agroecological transitions therefore require coordination among the multiple land users and managers shaping these landscapes (farmers, forest owners, managers, etc.). Collaboration can then be useful to foster mutual understanding among them, to identify points of agreement and disagreement, and collectively explore possible options and their consequences.
References to explore
Barnaud, C., et al. 2018. Ecosystem services, social interdependencies and collective action: a conceptual framework. Ecology and Society 23(1): 15. https://doi.org/10.5751/ES-09848-230115
Barnaud, C. and A. Van Paassen. 2013. “Equity, Power Games, and Legitimacy: Dilemmas of Participatory Natural Resource Management.” Ecology and Society 18(2): 21. http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-05459-180221
Leeuwis, C. 2004. Communication for rural innovation. Rethinking agricultural extension. Oxford, Blackwell publishing Ltd. 426p.
Moreau Clémence and Barnaud Cécile. 2018. SECOLOZ : a role-playing game for collaborative management of landscapes on the Mont-Lozère. Video SecoCo project: The ecosystem service concept: brake or driver for collective action, Cécile Barnaud (coord.).