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Institutional, individual, and socio-cultural domains of partnerships: a typology of USDA Forest Service recreation partners

Formally Refereed
Authors: Erin Seekamp, Lee K. Cerveny, Allie McCreary
Year: 2011
Type: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
Source: Environmental Management. 48: 615-630


Federal land management agencies, such as the USDA Forest Service, have expanded the role of recreation partners reflecting constrained growth in appropriations and broader societal trends towards civic environmental governance. Partnerships with individual volunteers, service groups, commercial outfitters, and other government agencies provide the USDA Forest Service with the resources necessary to complete projects and meet goals under fiscal constraints. Existing partnership typologies typically focus on collaborative or strategic alliances and highlight organizational dimensions (e.g., structure and process) defined by researchers. This paper presents a partner typology constructed from USDA Forest Service partnership practitioners' conceptualizations of 35 common partner types. Multidimensional scaling of data from unconstrained pile sorts identified 3 distinct cultural dimensions of recreation partners—specifically, partnership character, partner impact, and partner motivations—that represent institutional, individual, and socio-cultural cognitive domains. A hierarchical agglomerative cluster analysis provides further insight into the various domains of agency personnel's conceptualizations. While three dimensions with high reliability (RSQ = 0.83) and corresponding hierarchical clusters illustrate commonality between agency personnel's partnership suppositions, this study also reveals variance in personnel's familiarity and affinity for specific partnership types. This real-world perspective on partner types highlights that agency practitioners not only make strategic choices when selecting and cultivating partnerships to accomplish critical task, but also elect to work with partners for the primary purpose of providing public service and fostering land stewardship.


natural resources management, cognitive mapping, pile sort method, partnership typology, multidimensional scaling, motivations


Seekamp, Erin; Cerveny, Lee K.; McCreary, Allie. 2011. Institutional, individual, and socio-cultural domains of partnerships: a typology of USDA Forest Service recreation partners. Environmental Management. 48: 615-630.