Voluntary Associations and Their Involvement in Collaborative Forest Management
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Voluntary associations representing numerous types of recreation users and environmental issues have flourished across the landscape in America. However, the literature has not sufficiently studied these associations and their role in collaborative natural resource management. A lack of understanding of voluntary associations has not only limited managers’ ability to accommodate changing values of the American public, but also resulted in tremendous costs for land management agencies. This dissertation was aimed at gaining a better understanding of outdoor recreation and environmental voluntary associations and their involvement in collaborative forest management. Five objectives guided this study: (1) assessing the organizational characteristics of voluntary associations; (2) exploring organizational concerns about forest management issues; (3) examining organizational leaders’ experiences in collaborating with the Forest Service; (4) evaluating the perceived effectiveness of collaboration efforts with the Forest Service, and (5) developing and testing a social psychological model to predict members’ participation in organizational activities. To achieve our research goals, a case-study approach utilizing a mixed-methods research framework was employed. The Sam Houston National Forest (SHNF) located in New Waverly, Texas served as the geographic focus of this research. Semi-structured interviews and a web-based survey were conducted with members in selected voluntary associations that are currently involved in collaborative forest management at SHNF. The findings identified stakeholder attributes and interests, validated assumptions held regarding voluntary groups and assessed collaboration effectiveness, and helped to uncover alternative explanations for members’ differential participation in voluntary associations. The study offers a conceptual bridge linking several areas of study including inter-organizational collaboration, environmental communication, outdoor recreation studies, and volunteerism.
Lu, Jiaying (2010). Voluntary Associations and Their Involvement in Collaborative Forest Management. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from