Manifestation of conflict escalation in natural resource management

Manifestation of conflict escalation in natural resource management
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  Manifestation of conflict escalation in natural resourcemanagement  Yurdi Yasmi a,b, * , Heiner Schanz c  , Agus Salim d a Forest and Nature Conservation Policy Group, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 47, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands b Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), P.O. Box 6596 JKPWB, Jakarta 10065, Indonesia c Institute of Forest and Environmental Policy, Markets and Marketing Section, University of Freiburg, Tennenbacher Str. 4,D-79085 Freiburg i.Br., Germany d National Center for Epidemiology and Population Health, The Australian National University Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia 1. Introduction According to Ayling and Kelly (1997) conflict over naturalresourcemanagement(NRM)suchasland,waterandforestsisubiquitous. Many of those conflicts also involve violence (e.g.,Alston et al., 2000; Peluso and Watts, 2001). Due to these reasons studies on conflict management expand rapidlyparticularly during the past two decades (e.g., Buckles, 1999;Hellstrom, 2001; Daniels and Walker, 2001). Furthermore, it has been argued that the goal of conflict management is toattain positive outcomes and avoid destructive escalation(Deutsch, 1973; Kriesberg, 1998). To achieve this it has been suggestedthattwomajoraspectsmustbecarefullyexamined:issues involved in conflict and conflict escalation.To examine issues involved in conflict is to seek explana-tion on why conflict arises in the first place. Myriadstudies onthis have been carried out and knowledge has accumulated.For instance, it is commonly argued that conflict emerges if stakeholdershavedifferencesorincompatibilitiesininterests,values,power,perceptionandgoals(WalkerandDaniels,1997;FAO,2000;CastroandNielson,2001;CastroandNielson,2003).According to Glasl (1997, 1999) differences are the basis of  environmental science & policy 9 (2006) 538–546 a r t i c l e i n f o Keywords: ConflictNRMEscalation stagesEscalation patternsConflict management a b s t r a c t Conflictescalationisoneoftheimportantaspectstobeunderstoodforconstructiveconflictmanagement. It has been widely discussed in many fields of social study, in particular as itrelatesinter-individualconflicts. However,thisisnotthecasefornaturalresource manage-ment (NRM). This paper addresses two major questions: (1) what are the stages of conflictmanifestation inNRM?and (2)isitpossibletoidentifyescalation patternsofNRM conflicts?The analysis is based on a review of 118 conflict cases and qualitative content analysis. Toidentify escalation patterns a Markov Chain approach is used. Eight escalation stages areidentified. Furthermore, although it is possible to identify escalation patterns of NRMconflicts, there is no single ‘‘generic’’ pattern that fits all NRM cases. Escalation in NRMis more complex compared to inter-individual conflicts. It is argued that this complexitymight be due to the fact that most NRM conflicts are about multi-actors conflicts, involving wide range of issues and management strategies. Further investigation on escalation isnecessary by narrowing the scope and focus of analysis in order to increase our knowledgeon the subject. In turn this knowledge will contribute to achieving constructive conflictmanagement in NRM. # 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.*  Corresponding author . Tel.: +31 317 478004; fax: +31 317 478005.E-mail address: (Y. Yasmi). available at www.sciencedirect.comjournal homepage: 1462-9011/$ – see front matter # 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.doi:10.1016/j.envsci.2006.04.003  every conflict but conflict only occurs if an actor feels‘‘impairment’’ from the behavior of another actor due tothese differences.The second aspect focuses on how a particular conflictevolves over time. It is commonly assumed that conflict willintensifyifnotaddressedappropriatelyandtimely(WallandCallister, 1995). Intense conflicts do not materialize out of thin air; they gradually become more intense. And becausemany people tend to ignore low intensity conflict, conflictmanagement is usually devised only when conflict reacheshigh intensity. As a consequence, to achieve positiveoutcomes at this stage is difficult and a lot of effort isrequired. Glasl (1999) suggests that conflict managementstrategies should be based on conflict intensity/escalation(Fig. 1). 1 Understanding escalation helps people anticipateand manage conflict constructively. His model indicatesrequirements and possibilities with regards to external orinternal conflict capabilities.While conflict escalation has been well-studied in socialscience, it seems to be a neglected area of attention in NRM.In connection with NRM, several things are still unclear andthus further research is needed. For instance, what are thestagesofconflictmanifestationinNRM?Howdothosestagesdevelop during the course of conflict? And, in what respectdo escalation in NRM differ from inter-individual conflict asdescribed by Glasl? In this writing we try to give a firstattempt to address these questions. Unlike case study thatfocuses on applying theories to a particular context, ourapproach seeks general understanding from large number of cases. This approach is known as ‘‘moving from the specificto the general’’ with a major intention to provide enlight-enment and contribute to theories (see, e.g., Druckman,2005). It must be seen as a scientific endeavour rather thanprovidingdetailedtechnicalsolutionstoaparticularconflict/problem situation. With many experiences accumulatedfrom different empirical studies, we consider that recon-ceptualization of escalation in NRM is not only plausible butalso necessary. 2. Definition and conceptualization of conflict escalation Escalation theory is constructed based on inter-individualsconflicts within organizational settings such as schools,factories and government organizations. Escalation can bethought of as a process of increased intensity or worsening of the conflict (Wall and Callister, 1995). As argued by Kriesberg  (1998) it refers to increases in the severity of coerciveinducementsusedandincreasesinthenumberofparticipantswithinaconflict.Similarly, Jehn(1997)statesthatconflictsareperceived as more serious when they involve larger numbersof people, more events, or greater influence over futureinteractions.To understand the escalation, conflict can be best viewedas a series of dynamic processes that occur within a certainperiodoftimeorasasequenceofconflictstages.Pondy(1967)distinguishes five major stages of escalation: (1) latentconflict; (2) perceived conflict; (3) felt conflict; (4) manifestconflict;(5)conflictaftermath.Unfortunately,Pondydoesnotelaboratefurtherthe‘‘manifestconflict’’stage.Insubsequentresearch scholars suggest that it consists of several specificstages that could range from light argument to intenseconflict (e.g., fight, war).Pruitt and Rubin (1986) link the tactical and strategicmotivation of conflict parties with conflict intensities in thedifferent conflict stages. They describe escalation as a processin which: (1) tactics go from light to heavy; (2) issuesproliferate; (3) the parties concerned become increasinglyabsorbed in the struggle; (4) goals change from self-advance-ment to subverting the adversary. Conflict escalates asengagement becomes difficult and actors gradually lose their environmental science & policy 9 (2006) 538–546  539 Fig. 1 – Glasl’s escalation model and different forms of conflict capabilities. 1 Glasl depicts conflict escalation in a downward movementbecause according to him escalation goes ‘‘deeper and deeper,’’not higher and higher. It progressively activates deeper and moresubconscious levels; both in people and in groups, until thesepeople or groups completely lose their self-control.  e nvi  r onme ntal  s  ci  e n ce  &p  ol i   cy  9  (    2 0 0 6    )      5  3 8  –  5  4 6    5 4  0   Table 1 – A stage model of conflict escalation (Glasl, 1997) Stage Conflict issues Behavioral norms In-group/out-group cognition and attitudes Threshold to next level 1. ‘‘Hardening’’ Objective issues; hardening standpointsStraight argumentation Awareness of mutual dependence;nascent role expectations; nascentin-/out-group formation, ‘‘skins’’form around groups; suspicionsabout hidden motivesTactical tricks used in theargumentation2. ‘‘Debates andpolemics’’Objective issues and relativeposition, superiority; abilityto influenceVerbal confrontations; tactical feints inargumentation; debatesAffinity inwards; fixation at standpoints;ambivalence cooperation/competition;suspiciousness; counterpart has ‘‘typicalbehavior’’Action without consultation3. ‘‘Actions, notwords’’Objective issues and self-image;freedom of action; prove one’s ownmastery; blocking the counterpartAction without consultation; accomplishedfacts; symbolic behavior (jargon); decreasedverbal communication–increased non-verbalcommunication; extended social arenaBlocked empathy; ‘‘Counterpart notcapable of development’’; in-groupconformity pressure‘‘Deniable punishmentbehavior’’; covert attacksdirectly aimed at identityof counterpart4. ‘‘Images andcoalitions’’Counterpart is the problem; win orlose; save reputation‘‘Deniable punishment behavior’’;exploitation of gaps in norms; formationof coalitions; attacks on core identityDual cognition (black/white); coherentenemy image; attribution of collectivecharacteristics to counterpart; self-imageas only reacting to counterpartLoss of face5. ‘‘Loss of face’’ Fundamental values; exposecounterpart; rehabilitate dignityAttacks on the public face of thecounterpart; restore prestigeEnemy ‘‘unmasked’’: perceived as morallycorrupt; guilt symbiosis in-groupUltimatum; strategic threats6. ‘‘Strategiesof threats’’Control of counterpart Presentation of ultimata; panic-ruled actions;self-binding statements; extension of conflictOwn actions are only reactions; perceivedimpotence  !  rage; need for controlExecution of ultimata; attackson counterparts sanction potential7. ‘‘Limited des-tructive blows’’Hurt counterpart more thanone’s own group; nothing togain; survivalAttacks at sanction potential; threats +interrupted communicationCounterpart prepared to do anything;counterpart not human; power-thinking dominates; malice important motiveAttacks at core of enemy; effort toshatter enemy8. ‘‘Fragmentationof the enemy’’Annihilate counterpart; survival Attacks at vital functions; actions to shattercounterpart; attacks on cohesive functionAnnihilation fantasies; fascination withmechanical annihilation mechanismsGiving up self-preservation;total war9. ‘‘Together intothe abyss’’Annihilation at any cost Total war with all means; limitless violence Accept one’s own destruction if counterpart is destroyed–  flexibility towards their opponents. Stakeholders in anescalated conflict situation continuously exercise their powerin relation to their adversaries. Those with ample power aremost likely to be able to control resources in their favor andthereforemayhavelittleincentivetomakeconcessions.Pruittand Rubin’s escalation model holds true in all three differentconflict types: ‘‘the aggressor–defender model,’’ 2 ‘‘the conflictspiral model,’’ 3 and ‘‘the structural change model.’’ 4 In line with Pruitt and Rubin’s arguments, Glasl (1997)providesanine-stagemodelofescalation(Table1).Thismodelgivesadetaileddescriptionofthelevelsofescalation.Notonlythat, it also describes thresholds and forms of escalationmanifestation (i.e., see column ‘‘behavioral norm’’) for eachescalation stage.Based on the discussion so far, it is fair to say that theconceptualization of escalation has been developed quitewell in social science fields. However, the theoretical under-pinningofconflictescalationinNRMstandsinsharpcontrastto this. Yasmi (2004) points out that much of the currentresearch in NRM has focused primarily on underlying causesof conflicts in a descriptive manner and does not go deeperintoanalyzingthestagesandsequenceofconflictescalation.To fill this gap, we reconceptualized escalation stages andtheirsequenceinNRMbasedoncomparativeanalysisofcasestudies. 3. Methods It is important to mention that we employ a broad definitionof NRM to include all kinds of resource management such asforestry, water and fishery management, land allocation,agriculture, mining, etc. Our main assumption is that allnatural resources in these fields exhibit some commoncharacteristics. First, their management associate withmultiple stakeholder groups who have different ‘‘stakes’’and perceptions regarding resource use and conservation(e.g., FAO, 2000; Buckles, 1999; Hellstrom, 2001; Yasmi and Schanz, in preparation). Second, most of these resources arecategorized as ‘‘common pool resources’’ with complexinstitutional arrangements. Third, from an economic per-spectivetheyareconsideredlowintermsofexcludabilityandpartialintermsofrivalry(see,e.g.,Ostrom,1990,1999;Adams et al., 2003). Fourth, they have similar forms of valuesattached to them including material and cultural values.Finally,theyembracesomecommonproblemsanddilemmassuch as free-riders, contestedlegitimacy of governing actors,unavoidable conflict, etc.We used those assumptions to select case studies fromonline databases. We followed the advice of  Druckman (2005)that one had to be very careful and selective to avoid ‘‘lostforever’’ in the vast world of cyber space. We prioritized ourselection to cases that have been published in peer reviewed journals from the following databases:  Elsevier  / Science Direct , SpringerLink ,  JSTOR , and  Taylor and Francis . We chose thembecause they were available in our library and we consideredthat they could provide sufficient number of cases to be usedin the analysis.We used keywords that range from general to specificones. General keywords include ‘‘NRM conflict’’, ‘‘conflictNRM’’, ‘‘resource conflict’’, ‘‘conflict resource’’, ‘‘conflictescalation’’, and ‘‘conflict intensity’’. Because NRM conflictcovers a broad range of subject such as forestry, fishery,agriculture, mining, and land use we also searched for thesespecific terms. As expected, the results were enormous withmore than 1000 hits. However, we excluded many of thosehits because they were conceptual papers, short commu-nications(e.g.,bookreviews,researchnotes,commentary)orcase studies that were not relevant for NRM. After carefulscreening, only 174 cases could be considered (empirical)studies. Out of these we had access to about 80 because ourlibrary’s subscription did not cover the whole journals inthose databases. We increased the number of cases using asnowballapproachbylookingatcitedreferencesattheendof each selected case (Druckman, 2005). Based on this we could add conflict studies done by organizations such as FAO, theEuropean Forest Institute (EFI), the Center for InternationalforestryResearch(CIFOR),andtheWorldBank;manyofthemwere published in books and some were even accessiblethrough Internet. In the end, our list included 118 cases,which we considered sufficient enough to be analyzed.Because the additional cases were taken from these organi-zations, the final list consisted of 62 forest related conflicts(slightly more than 50% of the entire cases). Therefore theanalysis might be somehow bias toward forestry.The next step involved a qualitative content analysis of each case study to identify the stages of escalation. By stageswe referred to the manifestation expressions of a conflictsuch as debate, protest, court, etc. Initially we used the ninestages as proposed by Glasl as our starting point (Glasl, 1999).As we proceeded we adjusted these stages to reflectrecurrent patterns that we discovered. Through an iterativeprocess we could isolate eight categories of escalationstages, which will be elaborated in the next section.Subsequently, we assigned a numerical code for each of these stages. We then arranged these stages sequentially toreflect escalation development. A major idea behind thiswas to understand how conflict escalates over time. Adatabase was developed to store all the data. We usedMarkov Chain approach to identify significant patterns of escalation. environmental science & policy 9 (2006) 538–546  541 2 In the ‘‘aggressor–defender model’’ the aggressor is a partywhoseesanopportunitytochangethingsinthedirectionofhisorher interests and the defender is a party who attempts to resistthis change. The aggressor would use mild contentious tactics atthe beginning and move to heavier tactics until the goal isachieved. On the other hand, the defender merely reacts, escalat-ing his or her efforts in response to the aggressor’s escalation.Escalation continues until the aggressor either wins or gives uptrying. 3 In the ‘‘conflict spiral model’’ escalation is seen as a result of avicious circle of action and reaction. One party’s contentioustactics stimulate a contentious response from the other party,which contributes to continuous behavior from the first party,completing the circle and starting its next iteration. 4 The ‘‘structural change model’’ stresses that conflict, and thetactics used to pursue it, generate residues in the form of changesin the parties and the communities to which the parties belong.These residues then in turn stimulate further contentious beha-vior, at an equal or still more escalated level, and diminish effortsat conflict resolutions.  4. Results 4.1. Escalation forms in NRM Beyond the different rhetoric used by the authors of theindividual case studies, the manifestation of NRM conflictsranges widely from light disagreement to open war. Weidentified eight categories of escalation stages: (1) feeling anxiety; (2) debate and critiques; (3) lobby and persuasion; (4)protest and campaigning; (5) access restriction; (6) court case;(7)intimidationandphysicalexchange;(8)nationalizationandinternationalization. Within each of these categories weidentified manifestation dimensions, which are comparableto ‘‘behavioral norms’’ in Glasl’s model but more specific. Weassumedthatmanifestationdimensionswithineachcategoryhad more or less the similar escalation level; thus they weregrouped into the same escalation stage (Table 2).‘‘Feeling anxiety’’ includes suspicion about a particularactionordecisionbyotherstakeholders. Thissuspicionmightprovide a fertile ground for conflict because it creates aperception that an action by ‘‘others’’ would bring negativeimpacts to ‘‘my own’’ group’s interests or performance. Theworriesfurtherencourage‘‘intra-group’’coordinationinorderto counteract the action so that the perceived negativeimpacts are avoided or minimized. Normally at this level,some emotional reactions are expressed, such as: anger,unhappiness, complaints, rumours, etc. However, theseemotional reactions are only articulated within the ‘‘own’’group with the purpose of convincing group members andcreating a shared feeling that ‘‘our group’’ is being threatenedby‘‘others.’’Acommonexampleofthisescalationlevelcanbeillustrated, for instance, by the effort of environmentalistgroups to reduce or stop forest logging. As a result of thiseffort, logging industries and their workers often feel worriedor unhappy about the initiative of environmentalists. So, tocountertheenvironmentalists, industriessolicitsupportfromtheir workers because workers are also afraid of and worryabout job losses if logging were entirely stopped.At the ‘‘debate and critique’’ level, stakeholders who feelthreatened challenge the action of other stakeholders in aseries of debates. During the debate several issues areconfronted, such as what should be the priority in terms of managementoptions(e.g.,conservationorproduction),whyisit a priority, and so on. Opponents are often criticized andaccused for being self-centered and for not taking ‘‘mygroup’s’’ priorities into account. For instance, logging com-panies are criticized for causing damages to local resourcesnecessary for the livelihood of local people; governments areoften accused of doing a bad job in forest management due totheir lack of willingness to incorporate local communities’views in management plans. In some circumstances, thedebate might get intensified to the point where verbal clashesor quarrels become inevitable.‘‘Lobby and persuasion’’ is a more structured way of conveying concerns to the opponent. The key feature is thateach party has a very clear position and concern supportedwith argumentation. By presenting and confronting theopponent with evidence, it is expected that the opponentwill accommodatethe concern.To illustratethis, consider thefollowing example. Local people, through their leaders, mightlobbyloggingcompanyforpaymentofcompensationbasedonthemanyadverseenvironmentaleffectsofloggingoperations environmental science & policy 9 (2006) 538–546 542 Table 2 – Summary of forms of escalation of NRM conflicts (based on comparative analysis of 118 case studies) Stage Manifestation dimension 1. Feeling anxiety Feelings of worry, complaints, rumours, unhappiness, anger, grievance, discontent,disagreement over decision/issues, fear of job lost2. Debate and critique Open debate, intense debate, verbal clash, accusation, quarrel, critiques togovernment policies3. Lobby and persuasion Lobbying government, lobbying for compensation, persuading government toacknowledge local rights, lobbying politicians4. Protest and campaigning Protest by local people, protest against logging plan, demonstration, mass protest,street rally, convoy of tractors, farmer rally, public rally, logger rally, truck convoy,marching, strike, campaigning and protest by environmental groups, mediacampaign, letter-writing campaign, protest by religious leaders, protest against aparticular plan5. Access restriction Squatter invasion, picketing of companies, peaceful take over of the park, blockading logging road, preventing from working on particular areas, imposed restriction onsubsistence activities, blockading ports, removal by force, eviction, forced resettlement,displacement, relocation by force, fencing land by big land holders, invasion by landless,closing the road, occupation6. Court Court appeal, litigation, regional court case, federal court, lawsuit7. Intimidation and physical exchange Threat, death threats, intimidating, threat of boycott, confiscation, machete fight, killing,injury, shooting, ambushing, murdering, attacking, strife, fight, war, violence clashes,bandit attack, damaging district forestry office, assassination, vandalism of park officials’vehicle, burning base camp, arresting, burning opium fields, hiring gunmen, militaryretaliation, police arrests, putting fire on forest, destroying pipeline, detention, seizing company’s equipment, mobilizing soldiers and military hardware, military action,police involvement8. Nationalization and internationalization Protest in national and international media (e.g., newspapers, magazine, video), NationalHigh Court, State Superior Court, national referenda, bilateral negotiation, influencing national congress, widespread international protest, appeal to International Court of  Justice, fight in WTO and NAFTA
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