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Socio-economic methods in natural resources research

Briefing/policy papers

Written by John Farrington

The format of this NRP is unconventional: it synthesises a number of review papers prepared for a UK Overseas Development Administration (ODA) workshop on Socio-Economics Methods for Natural Resources Research. The ODA s Renewable Natural Resources Strategy (RNRRS) manages natural science research across eleven discipline-based programmes. Most are contracted out to external managers, but the Natural Resources Systems Programme (NRSP) is managed within ODA. The Socio-Economics Methodology (SEM) component of the NRSP is responsible for commissioning work on the development of novel research methods in the social sciences with specific relevance to natural resource management. It commissioned ODI to host the workshop on 29 30 April 1996, which aimed to review the range and recent applications of socio-economic methods currently available to natural resources research managers. A cross-section of natural and social scientists were invited to participate in the presentations and discussions, to examine the fit between the socio-economic methods that are currently available and those that are needed by natural scientists, and to identify priorities for the further development and adaptation of social science research for natural resources management.

Eleven review papers were presented at the workshop. They covered (in the sequence discussed below): aspects of farmer participation (6 papers); a reinterpretation of systems approaches; monitoring and evaluation (2); uptake and promotion pathways, and potential applications to NR research of a Policy Analysis Matrix. The selection of themes was determined by ODA s perceptions of its priorities early in the formulation of the RNRRS, and left a number of gaps. There was, for instance, no discussion of multi-agency approaches (but see Alsop et al. 1996), nor of techniques to monitor such approaches (or NR research itself) as a process (but see Mosse et al., forthcoming).

The remainder of this paper draws out the main points made in individual review papers.

John Farrington