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4. Strategy question 4: Expert or local knowledge driving visions?

Image: StĂŠphane Lavoie. Prince Rupert, BC

Experts ready to give an immediate and complete answer, in procedural or substantive terms, ought to be distrusted. On the other hand, absolute emphasis on participation as the only source of adequate knowledge, on local knowledge as the core of strategizing, can also create false certainties, in which no reflexive governance nor adaptation ever seems necessary.

Many isolated fishing communities in BC fell into the trap of relying too heavily on local knowledge. An absolute belief in local knowledge, in the value of local management practices, blinded the community to both old and new problems with these practices. Many years later, government and their experts, or foreign fishermen, were blamed for declining stocks, partly correctly, partly incorrectly.

Which expert knowledge to use and how to build it into governance? Path mapping shows how topics evolved, how problems were defined over time, which forms of knowledge were deployed, how they were institutionalized and built into governance. From the past, we can learn which expertise was embraced why, what influence it had in governance, and which community issues the expertise was supposed to address. The past does not tell us exactly what to do, however. It does not show us in a direct manner which expertise is missing and can get us out of a slump. Which particular expertise might be missing or could be underutilized or overemphasized, and which particular balance between local and expert

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Boom and Bust: a guide

Profile for University of Alberta Extension

Boom & Bust: A Guide, Managing Ups and Downs in Communities  

Boom and Bust: A Guide is the result of a collective effort at the University of Alberta to better understand the dramatic ups and downs whi...

Boom & Bust: A Guide, Managing Ups and Downs in Communities  

Boom and Bust: A Guide is the result of a collective effort at the University of Alberta to better understand the dramatic ups and downs whi...

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