Stakeholder involvement in coastal partnerships in the UK
: towards secure representation

  • Stephen Fletcher

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Coastal Partnerships (CPs) have emerged since the early 1990s as a local and regional response to the national coastal management policy vacuum in the United Kingdom (UK). CPs are voluntary groupings of stakeholders aspiring to improved coastal resource use through integrated coastal management (ICM). CPs use the rationale of deliberative consensus building to develop and implement multi-sectoral coastal management strategies to deliver ICM. Despite the significance of CPs, there has been a lack of research into their effectiveness in securing meaningful representation of stakeholder views in decision-making. Poor stakeholder representation has the potential to undermine the credibility, legitimacy, accountability and democratic basis of CP management outputs. Through a telephone interview schedule with CP officers in the UK, the procedures and safeguards in place to accommodate stakeholder representation were evaluated. Results indicated that CPs have restrictive and variable membership criteria and unclear decision making procedures. These limitations exposed CPs to poor inclusivity and served to maintain existing power relations amongst stakeholders. It was also apparent that CPs had little information concerning the legitimacy of those representing stakeholder constituencies, potentially risking exposure to misrepresentation. In order to examine these issues further, four case study CPs were selected and a personal interview schedule undertaken with stakeholder representatives. It was found that representatives were, in general the legitimate representative of their constituency, that most held a trustee relationship with their constituency, but generally had limited accountability - both individually and collectively. Representatives perceived the decision-making process of CPs to favour already powerful groups, which served to limit the credibility of the CP amongst the membership. The concept of secure representation was developed to describe circumstances in which stakeholder representation could be assured. It was determined that secure representation occurred when representatives were responsive to their constituency, when CPs had an inclusive membership and when decision-making was fair to all involved. Specific internal and external management measures to deliver secure representation were defined. This facilitated the development of a conceptual model that mapped secure representation against specific management measures. The model allowed particular routes to be identified for CPs to enhance their secure representation. It was concluded that both the procedures and safeguards within CPs and the management measures within stakeholder constituencies required reform. Central to this reform was the need for CPs to extend their sphere of influence to enhance the representation of stakeholder constituencies within coastal decision-making.
Date of Award2003
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Nottingham Trent University

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