Policies such as the US Healthy Forests Restoration Act (HFRA) mandate collaboration in planning to create benefits such as social learning and shared understanding among partners. However, some question the ability of top-down policy to foster successful local collaboration. Through in-depth interviews and document analysis, this paper investigates social learning and transformative learning in three case studies of Community Wildfire Protection Planning (CWPP), a policy-mandated collaboration under HFRA. Not all CWPP groups engaged in social learning. Those that did learned most about organisational priorities and values through communicative learning. Few participants gained new skills or knowledge through instrumental learning. CWPP groups had to commit to learning, but the design of the collaborative-mandate influenced the type of learning that was most likely to occur. This research suggests a potential role for top-down policy in setting the structural context for learning at the local level, but also confirms the importance of collaborative context and process in fostering social learning.
Brummel, Rachel F.; Nelson, Kristen C., Souter, Stephanie Grayzeck; Jakes, Pamela J.; Williams, Daniel R. 2010. Social learning in a policy-mandated collaboration: Community wildfire protection planning in the eastern United States. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management. 53(6): 681-699.