Evolution of co-management: role of knowledge generation, bridging organizations and social learning

J Environ Manage. 2009 Apr;90(5):1692-702. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2008.12.001. Epub 2008 Dec 24.


Over a period of some 20 years, different aspects of co-management (the sharing of power and responsibility between the government and local resource users) have come to the forefront. The paper focuses on a selection of these: knowledge generation, bridging organizations, social learning, and the emergence of adaptive co-management. Co-management can be considered a knowledge partnership. Different levels of organization, from local to international, have comparative advantages in the generation and mobilization of knowledge acquired at different scales. Bridging organizations provide a forum for the interaction of these different kinds of knowledge, and the coordination of other tasks that enable co-operation: accessing resources, bringing together different actors, building trust, resolving conflict, and networking. Social learning is one of these tasks, essential both for the co-operation of partners and an outcome of the co-operation of partners. It occurs most efficiently through joint problem solving and reflection within learning networks. Through successive rounds of learning and problem solving, learning networks can incorporate new knowledge to deal with problems at increasingly larger scales, with the result that maturing co-management arrangements become adaptive co-management in time.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Community Participation
  • Conservation of Natural Resources*
  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Government*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Learning
  • Organizations / organization & administration*
  • Problem Solving