Knowledge in the network
Maclin, Edward Minor
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This dissertation describes a multi-sited, institutional ethnography of the WWF Global Arctic Programme (GAP) investigating the interplay of networks, organizational culture, and institutional structures. Research at the 2009 UNFCCC CoP15, the 2010 CBD CoP10, and in WWF offices spanned continents, staff changes, and program shifts, and was accompanied by archival research, targeted interviews, egocentric network data collection, and participation in ongoing virtual meetings and discussions. Within WWF's GAP, multinational groups operating within dual local and network contexts carry out the development of policy. The broad WWF Arctic network is not homogeneous. Rather, it is composed of several discreet clusters, two of which correspond roughly to US and Russian offices. Many collaborations within the organization are bilateral or trilateral, involving subsets of the larger Arctic network. 40% of the members of the extended WWF Arctic network are individuals who do not work for WWF: funders, members of findigenous communities, other conservationists, and political officials. As WWF staff develop new conservation initiatives, they enroll and deploy new network members in the service of knowledge development and transformation. The resulting program development glosses over internal complexities and gives the impression of a unified voice for conservation. WWF’s offices are organized through a system of network governance, with the GAP working to facilitate collaboration and sharing of information and resources. Individual projects are similarly nonhierarchical, with coordination accomplished through both formal and informal communication. WWF has a long history of work within the Arctic. Key staff within the extended GAP network have years of experience both within WWF and within the field of conservation practice. Those staff are able to serve as mentors for new staff and as links—both among WWF offices and between WWF and external contacts. The presence of staff members with accurate understandings of their own network structure is particularly salient for the Arctic, where institutional complexities and trans-boundary conservation needs are high. In such an environment, achieving credibility and legitimacy across multiple knowledge domains presents a special challenge: one that WWF attempts to address through the mobilization of networked resources.
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