Trust ecology and the resilience of natural resource management institutions

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The Resilience Alliance

The resilience of natural resource management (NRM) institutions are largely contingent on the capacities of the people and organizations within those institutions to learn, innovate, and adapt, both individually and collectively. These capacities may be powerfully constrained or catalyzed by the nature of the relationships between the various entities involved. Trust, in particular, has been identified repeatedly as a key component of institutional relationships that supports adaptive governance and successful NRM outcomes. We apply an ecological lens to a pre-existing framework to examine how different types of trust may interact to drive institutional resilience in NRM contexts. We present the broad contours of what we term “trust ecology,” describing a conceptual framework in which higher degrees of diversity of trust, as conceptualized through richness and evenness of four types of trust (dispositional, rational, affinitive, and systems based), enhance both the efficacy and resilience of NRM institutions. We describe the usefulness and some limitations of this framework based on several case studies from our own research and discuss the framework's implications for both future research and designing more resilient governance arrangements.

Adaptive governance, Functional redundancy, Institutional resilience, Natural resource management, Trust
Stern, M. J., and T. Baird. 2015. Trust ecology and the resilience of natural resource management institutions. Ecology and Society 20(2): 14.