Understanding leadership in collaborative efforts to steward rural watersheds

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Mackay, Scott D.
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University of Guelph

This thesis is an investigation of the influence of leadership in initiatives which take a collaborative approach to setting and implementing stewardship priorities in rural watersheds. Leadership in the collaborative context is defined as engendering voluntary, collective action in network settings to address complex environmental management problems. A qualitative Action Research and Case Study approach to inquiry was taken to investigate leadership in a planned intervention constituting a primary case for the study, and five additional reference cases of stewardship leaders undertaking similar work in other areas of the province. Data in the primary case was collected through participant observations, and in reference cases was collected through semi-structured telephone interviews. Open and axial coding were used to analyse data through identifying themes and patterns based on a theoretical framework developed through the literature review. The study findings indicate that leadership was distributed and multi-modal, and that there was a strong correspondance between case evidence and the theoretical framework.

leadership, stewardship, rural watersheds, collaborative efforts