A Social Network Analysis on Organisations Collaborating on Coastal Restoration Projects.

Supervisor: Steven Scyphers (Northeastern University).
Degradation and loss of habitat has become an important issue in recent history due to land development and climate change, both caused by human activity, either directly or indirectly. This has become critical in areas where human society is strongly linked to an ecosystem such as coastal regions. Furthermore, coasts are one of the most susceptible ecosystems towards these damages, thus impacting the significant human populations associated to them. Restoration of coastal habitats has been used as sustainable management of these socio-ecological systems. During these restoration projects different partners collaborate, sharing their expertise and resources. Improvement in management can be achieved if a better understanding of how information and resources flow during a collaboration to gain an overall better outcome in the project. Social network analysis is an effective tool to understanding interactions between actors by graphically visualising them. It has already proven a useful tool in the literature for sustainable resource management, including restoration of habitats. The aim of this study is to investigate and understand how different types of organisations collaborate together during coastal restoration projects in Massachusetts by looking at the different types of habitat and the primary techniques used. The source and distribution of financing will also be investigated as well as how effectively partners collaborated. Social network analysis and questionnaires were used to identify that collaboration between the types of partners changed relative to the types of habitat and the technique. State had a high amount of interactions between the partners whereas federal did not and it was suggested that shared interest between those interacting partners may be the cause. In addition, compulsory relations between partners would suggest a reduced interaction. Furthermore, partners who were a source of funding were seen to have a higher amount of interaction in the network, unless a compulsory relationship was involved, such as federal partners. Overall, this study was able to obtain a better understanding of how partners work together but questions remain in order to fully understand the interactions between the different partners, therefore further research is critical.