Guidelines for Facilitating the Use of Coastal Champions in Social Networks

A recent study by Taylor, Cocklin and Brown (2012) developed a six-step process to be used for the development of capacity building strategies/tools for fostering environmental champions. Figure 1 outlines the six-step process. Applying this six-step process to the study of coastal champions would provide a better understanding of the ways in which coastal champions can be fostered.

The study by Taylor, Cocklin and Brown (2012) notes that guidance provided by other research (Andersson & Bateman 2000; Meijerink & Huitema 2010; White 2006) into fostering champions has been limited. For example: a variety of leadership behaviours and tactics are suggested for use by champions, however the research does not establish if the approaches given are relevant or applicable to specific types of environmental champions working within particular contexts (Taylor, Cocklin & Brown 2012). The six-step process was designed to be generic to enable its use by environmental managers and researchers within differing work environments and may therefore be useful as a tool for fostering coastal champions.

Taylor, Cocklin and Brown’s (2012) six-step process begins with the development of a preliminary conceptual model. The model can include details such as champion attributes, champion driven leadership processes and other information that informs the development of champions as ‘effective leaders’. Findings from a study by Mumford (2012) on the role of champions in enabling science uptake into policy in the Australian coastal zone could enable a preliminary conceptual model to be developed for the fostering of this type of coastal champions.

First, the study found that 14 key characteristics were associated with the coastal champions identified:

  1. Effective communicator
  2. Extensive knowledge
  3. Effective Networker
  4. Passionate
  5. Persistent
  6. Credible
  7. Longevity
  8. Friendly
  9. Committed
  10. Enthusiastic
  11. Hard Working
  12. Selfless
  13. Innovative
  14. Determined

Second, the study identified the motivations of coastal champions as having a connection with the coast, possessing a sense of altruism and being driven by passion.

Third, the study determined a number of strategies used by coastal champions that contribute to their ability to be successful influencers of science uptake into Australian coastal policy:

  • Maintain integrity and credibility
  • Be persistent
  • Understand different motivations and views
  • Build and maintain relationships
  • Disseminate information
  • Communicate effectively
  • Identify and attend forums for developing relationships/networking – workshops, symposiums, conferences
  • Communicate indirectly – through the media
  • Communicate widely – publish in journals with wide readerships, attend conferences that are multi-disciplinary

While Mumford’s (2012) study provides the background needed to initiate Taylor, Cocklin and Brown’s six-step process, the scope of the study did not allow for the model to be tested. Further research in this area is needed in order to gain a better understanding of champions in Australian coastal management and how they can be fostered, in particular for their strategic use in influencing the use of science by decision-makers (Mumford 2012).

 

References

Andersson, LM & Bateman, TS 2000, 'Individual environmental initiative: Championing natural environmental issues in US business organizations', Academy of Management Journal, pp. 548-570.

Meijerink, S & Huitema, D 2010, 'Policy entrepreneurs and change strategies: lessons from sixteen case studies of water transitions around the globe', Ecology and Society, vol. 15, no. 2, p. 21.

Mumford, T 2012, 'The Role of Champions in Enabling Science Uptake into Policy in the Australian Coastal Zone', Discipline of Geography, Environment and Population, Honours Thesis, University of Adelaide.

Taylor, A, Cocklin, C & Brown, R 2012, 'Fostering environmental champions: A process to build their capacity to drive change', Journal of Environmental Management, vol. 98, pp. 84-97.

White, J 2006, 'Sustainable water management: Achieving a culture of change', Melbourne, Victoria: Melbourne Water.