“That some people have more power than others is one of the most palpable facts of human existence.” Robert A. Dahl (1957, p 1).

For three years our team has explored the relationships among power inequalities and collaborative behavior (within the context of water resource management) (see CPI). We have focused on how and whether people are likely to cooperate with others to manage water collaboratively. Our preliminary results suggest an important relationship between social power (the ability to influence others by controlling resources; Fiske, 1993) and prosocial behavior (concern for the well-being of others and willingness to cooperate).

Within natural resource collaboration, power is the ability to control or withhold resources and influence decision making (Fiske, 1993; Reed, 2008). Natural resource management decisions are complex and often span several jurisdictions. Effective collaborative governance requires the sharing of power and resources between stakeholders. Unequal power has previously been described as a key barrier to natural resource co-management (for a definition of co-management and the stages of this process see Borrini-Feyerabend et al. 2007) (Ansell & Gash, 2008). The co-management of natural resources is uniquely susceptible to inequalities of power over scarce of resources and simultaneously necessitates collaboration between multiple diverse stakeholders (Ansell & Gash, 2008; Leach, 2006). Continue reading The Missing Link: Empathy, Power and Collaboration

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