The need for improved stewardship of coastal and marine resources is evident worldwide. However, complex ecosystem dynamics, institutional inertia, and budgetary constraints impede such action. This study explores how networks of change-oriented individuals or “institutional entrepreneurs” can introduce new types of human-environment interaction. The focus is on investigating the interplay between the strategies of institutional entrepreneurs and broader system dynamics that shape the context in which they are working, and possible impacts of institutional entrepreneurship on marine governance.
We explore these issues in the context of Wakatobi National Park in eastern Indonesia. We suggest that creating links between different social spheres, such as between marine resource management and spirituality or between marine resource management and education, may accelerate the development of a new ecosystem stewardship. We further suggest that the use of media has significant power to show alternative futures, but that media may also serve to objectify certain resource users and increase the complexity of marine resource management.
In general, institutional entrepreneurs play an important role in capturing and managing opportunity to open up space for experimentation and novel ideas, for example by linking their ideas to broader political priorities. Yet, such strategies bear the risk of institutional capture. Finally, institutional entrepreneurs sometimes have vested interests in certain solutions that may forsake experimentation toward a sustainable future.
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