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Keywords:

  • framing;
  • collaboration;
  • conflict;
  • resistance

Abstract

While many studies of collaboration have relied on processual factors to explain outcomes of conflicts among the stakeholders, the failure of collaboration can also be explained by the divergence of stakeholders' frames about the issues. Research on environmental conflicts has shown that the ways in which the stakeholders frame the issues and the conflict itself explain collaborative success or failure. When stakeholders' frames about the issues, the process of their interaction, and about each other are vastly different, collaboration to find an agreeable solution becomes exceedingly difficult. In this article I present a case study of a protracted conflict over Voyageurs National Park in northern Minnesota (USA) to show how frames impeded the stakeholders from finding a collaborative solution to the conflict despite an 18-month mediation effort. How the stakeholders construed their own identities in the conflict, how they constructed the problems or opportunities that linked them, as well as the frames they held about how the conflict should be resolved, all worked to prevent collaboration. Consequently, stakeholders' frames and processes for promoting reframing are critical to understanding how collaborative partnerships evolve and whether they will eventually succeed or fail. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.