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The Oak Ridges Moraine as a Social Innovation: Strategic Vision as a Social-Ecological Interaction

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Type: Journal Article
Author: McCarthy, Daniel D. P.; Whitelaw, Graham S.; Westley, Frances R.; Crandall, Debbe D.; Burnett, David
Journal: Ecology and Society
Volume: 19
Page(s):
Date: 2014
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/9350
Sector: Land Tenure & Use
Region: North America
Subject(s): social-ecological systems
innovation
Abstract: "The Oak Ridges Moraine (ORM) case is unique in that it represents a social innovation in Canadian, if not North American, ecosystem-based land-use planning. A social innovation is an initiative, product, process, or program that profoundly changes the basic routines, resources, and authority flows or beliefs of any social system. Successful social innovations have durability and broad impact. We interpret the narrative of the ORM conservation process to explore the utility of an emerging social innovation conceptual model, the ‘vision as social interaction’ framework using resilience thinking and the role of vision in social change within complex social-ecological systems. Qualitative data from two interrelated studies of the moraine were reinterpreted and include 38 in-depth, semistructured interviews conducted between 2004-2006, as well as extensive participant observation at over 50 moraine conservation meetings, workshops, and events. The results of our study indicate that emerging model of social innovation can be linked with other models of ‘radical change’ such as those that employ concepts like ‘policy windows’ to describe opportunities for continued innovation once an initiative has reached the routinized phase. Just as with the panarchy cycle, when a social-ecological system reaches the conservation phase, the system has a propensity to collapse and reorganize. Rather than seeing this as the end of an initiative or program, such as is the case with the ORM, stakeholders can see it as an opportunity for reorganization with newly released resources and new opportunities."

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