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 Smith River Project > Characteristics of Conventional Decision Making

Chapter 7 -- Synthesizing an Ecosystem Restoration Strategy (continued)

Characteristics of Conventional Decision-Making

Conventional decision-making processes for land-use planning often include the following weaknesses (Rakha personal communication 1995, Bella 1992):

  • Goals are short-term and focused on narrowly defined objectives, such as production, eradication, or problem solving (e.g. saving an endangered species, producing X number of board feet of lumber).
  • People in power develop the goals without adequate consideration of the social, economic, and ecological impact of goal-related activities on the entire community. This often involves control by distant governments and experts.
  • The process tends to result in conflicting goals within the community. The tendency for conflicting goals is caused in part by adversarial relationships between competing interest groups. The participants engage in "win-lose" (or "zero sum") thinking. There is inadequate consideration of the goals of less powerful community members.
  • Tools and strategies are often confused with goals.
  • Tools and strategies tend to address only the symptoms of problems, not the root causes.
  • Organizations have a distorting influence on information. This is due to several social tendencies:
    • Information that has a negative effect is challenged and sent back for further study.
    • Favorable information is easily passed on to superiors.
    • Resources tend to be allocated to sources of favorable information rather than to "trouble-makers".
  • There is overconfidence that decisions are correct and therefore monitoring is not emphasized.


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