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Bridging Boundaries in Stakeholder Engagement

Jodi Lynn Delozier, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Natural resource professionals, political leaders, and environmental organizations are recognizing the need for more informed and educated stakeholders to tackle today’s complex natural resource concerns. This dissertation investigates the nature of stakeholder engagement and its influence on natural resource management. The purpose of this study is to: 1) examine the attitudes that influence agricultural producers’ involvement in stakeholder engagement and community capacity building, 2) determine if boundary spanning skills can be developed through a professional development program, and 3) investigate the role of boundary spanners within a stakeholder-directed engagement process. Data was collected from interviews of Nebraska agricultural producers and natural resource professionals with experience in stakeholder engagement and from a survey of Nebraska Water Leaders Academy participants and their raters. The first study explores the factors that enable or constrain agricultural producers’ engagement and community capacity building in Nebraska. Seventeen participant interviews were conducted with agricultural producers identifying several barriers to producer participation. The findings also included enabling factors which may act as an incentive for more engagement by producers. The second study develops and evaluates an evidence-based boundary spanner development program for natural resource professionals. Nebraska Water Leaders Academy participants were asked to take part in a boundary spanner workshop as part of the year-long Academy and surveyed to assess their boundary spanning skills. Results indicate that certain boundary spanning competencies can be learned when coupled with a program that incorporates participant experiences, internal support, personal reflection, and program evaluation. The third study investigates boundary spanning skills evident among participants in an 18-month stakeholder engagement process in Nebraska. Twenty-five participant interviews were conducted covering a range of issues to determine if individuals participating in a stakeholder-directed engagement process exhibited boundary spanning behaviors and if so, how were these skills applied in practice. These three research projects identify strategies that can lead to more effective and sustainable stakeholder engagement processes and highlight the challenges inherent in bringing a diverse group of individuals together to solve complex natural resource concerns.

Subject Area

Natural Resource Management|Agriculture|Water Resources Management

Recommended Citation

Delozier, Jodi Lynn, "Bridging Boundaries in Stakeholder Engagement" (2022). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI29161596.