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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2013

Discursive institutionalist approach to conflict management analysis - The case of old-growth forest conflicts on state-owned land in Finland

Raitio, Kaisa


The purpose of the paper is to present an analytical framework for studying conflict management processes. The paper draws on discursive approaches to new institutional theory in integrating three inter-related elements of conflict management: collaborative practices; formal and informal institutions; and the ways the policy issues are understood and communicated (framed) by the different actors in contested situations. The Discursive Institutional Conflict Management Analysis framework (DICMA) draws focus to the interaction between these three elements during conflict management efforts. It also helps to identify challenges related to each of the elements when improving conflict management, and contributes to formulating necessary policy reforms.A case study looking at the management of old-growth forest conflicts on public land in Finland is used to illustrate the applicability of the approach. The empirical analysis shows that the ‘old new institutionalist' analysis is useful in explaining how history shapes the paths of the institutional reforms, how informal norms affect behaviour of natural resource management agencies, and how institutional structures create counterproductive incentive structures for the conflict management practices. However it takes the discursive approach, here applied through frame analysis, to understand the responses and strategies of natural resource management agencies in the face of the institutional challenges. Institutional and frame analyses in combination shed light to the logic behind the state forest agency's seemingly unproductive approaches to the conflicts.


Forest conflicts; Conflict management; Institutional theory; Discursive institutionalism; Frame theory

Published in

Forest Policy and Economics
2013, Volume: 33, pages: 97-103

    SLU Authors

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG16 Peace, justice and strong institutions

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
    Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)

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