Perils of Collaboration/Collaboration in Peril ?

Two Contrasting Perspectives on the Collaborative Conservation Model

George Wuerthner continues his thoughtful critique of the collaborative process by illustrating a stark distinction between the act of “collaboration” and the art of “negotiation”:

Perils of Collaboration – George Wuerthner, Counterpunch

Rocky Barker gives voice to the pro-collaborative perspective, suggesting if collaboratives aren’t nourished with passage – their failure may end up fanning the flames of more principled/anti-establishment voices:

Other collaborative processes threatened if Simpson’s bill goes down – Rocky Barker, Letters from the West – Idaho Statesman

Previously featured on Wildlife News :
Collaboration on the Clearwater







  1. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Collaboration or consensus decision making pretty much always favors the interests of the status quo. That is why Western Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats favor it.

    If any important established interest opposes change, they get to veto it. Therefore, meaningful change is hardly possible.

    1. jimt Avatar

      Ralph has it EXACTLY RIGHT…I have a masters in, among other things, organizational theory and dynamics, and years of experience in working inside of local and county government as well as international corporations. All are classic Weberian test cases…resistant to change, likes inertia (status quo), insular, protective of its own culture, even to the point of paranoia and self destructive behaviors. Doubtful? Look at ENRON, AIG, MMS, etc…

      Negotiation assumes equal bargaining positions. Collaboration implies a less party giving something to get something from a superior party…ie, it is no accident that Vichy supporters in France were labeled collarborators by historians…they were, in decision making theory language, in the “one down” position.

  2. cc Avatar

    Unfortunately, few if any politicians are willing to spend their political capital on legit wildlife/wildlands conservation so we get watered down actions or no action at all. I still cringe when I think of Bill Clinton’s approach to climate change: sign the Kyoto protocol but don’t send it to the Republican controlled Congress to be ratified because you’re not willing to fight with them. So despite Al Gore being freakin’ VP, Clinton pretended to do something about climate change while doing nothing. That’s what alot of the collaborations turn out to be like.

    On the other hand, at times colloboration may be the best course as something can be better than nothing and if you don’t collaborate you sure as hell better win the ensuing battle.

    1. Ken Cole Avatar

      I read that this morning and I disagree with him. I don’t think collaboration will work and, despite Leahy’s desire for it, there are very few who stand in the middle on this issue who would be willing to collaborate. The issue needs to be decided in court.

      Rocky Barker wrote about this op-ed too but he states that “Only the extremists on the other side are seriously talking about reducing the population to the minimum.” That’s an interesting take on the situation since those “extremists” control the legislature and will quickly demand that the IDFG and WS reduce the population to 15 breeding pairs once delisting is settled in court. They’re just biding their time because they know that it would look bad in front of the judge. But, are they smart enough to not step in once a judge makes a decision? I doubt it, they are rabidly anti-wolf and like it as a campaign issue as evidenced by all of the campaign calls I got before the primary.

  3. Salle Avatar

    I’d have to agree with Ken on this one. The great misfortune yet to be highlighted is the fact that collaboration has been hijacked and transformed into a stalling tactic more often than not.

    Something more drastic than the gulf oil spill is required to wake up a thoroughly distracted human race to address our own survival needs. We are still blinded by the bull and cash. Until enough people start to see that their own survival is at stake on an every day basis, nothing will change. Collaboration was a nice thought but personal gain is what it’s all about for those who have the power to make change, therefore, they must be compelled to address these needs, it’s why (supposedly) we have a justice system with courts for making determinations.

    It’s a good guess as to when the proverbial camel’s back will break.

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