How Implementing An Environmental Policy Relies On Stakeholders Awareness Business Essay


Generally speaking, implementing any environmental policy relies to a large extent on the stakeholders' awareness (Myers, 1996; Withrow-Robinson et al., 2002; Pinto-Correia et al., 2006; Fernandez-Gimenez et al., 2008); ; in particular, a successful forest policy depends not only on how responsible people are but also on how effectively the stakeholders communicate. A successful communication also depends to the extent to which different people realize the risk of undertaking or not a certain course of actions, and these different perceptions are brought by different degrees of knowledge.

More recenlty, it has been addminited the communication between the European forest sector and other stakeholders is still difficult and a clear path towards a better inter-sectoral communication is still lacking (Hogl, 2007; Janse, 2007). These difficulties are brought about by the fact that any decision referring to forests and forestry encompasses large areas, long time horizon and multiple stakeholders (Kangas and Kangas, 2004), and also a great deal of knowledge and information from different sources (Kennedy et al., 2003). Integrating such pieces of knowledge into the traditional forest management is an imperative (Krumland and Krott, 2004; Oesten and von Detten, 2008) as long as the forest management plan is still the main tool of communication (Otsyina, 2002; Larsen and Nielsen, 2007). However, formal participation in outlining the management plan doesn't guarantee a real influence upon the quality of communication but the competence and attitude of key actors may be of great importance, as well as the distribution of power and conflicts of interests (Aasetre, 2006) or the systems of landscape classification, suppose to embed locally specific values (Pinto-Correia et al., 2006).

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Both issues, the power and conflicts of interests, are interconnected with the concept of discourse, meant by sociologists as "a coherent set of more or less coherent understandings that shape the boundaries of thought, and thus of action" (Foucault, 2002). Discourse can also be seen as a particular way of using language and other symbolic forms able to shape relations (Leskinen, 2004). Usually the stakeholders who are responsible with keeping people better informed are leaned to emphasize some aspects and overlook other issues just for being in line with the common opinion, which is shaped to a great extent by indirect perception of most different communication channels (Scholz and Suda, 1998). However, the role of face-to-face or peer-to-peer communication cannot be neglected, as long as communication barriers still exist due to distrust or limited comprehension (Hujala and Tikkanen, 2008).

The Romanian forests and foresters were subjects for some thorough sociologic studies focused on the local conflicts brought about by the forest restitution process (Dorondel, 2009; Sikor et al., 2009), on the social dimension of forestry and forest-related business in rural areas (Vasile, 2007), the peculiarities of traditional community forests in Romania, (Mantescu and Vasile, 2009) , the relationship between local identity and forest ownership (Mantescu, 2009) or the systems of values altered or strengthened by the restitution process (Lawrence and Szabo, 2005).

One of the methods of assessment of communication is transactional analysis (TA), but few studies were actually focused on using this method for improving the communication. TA was applied in tourism in order to get a better interaction between employees and clients (Wachtel, 1980) , modeling and improving the relationships occurred in supply chain networks (Dani, 2004) , in analyzing the discourse of the workers facing organizational changes (F. De Zanet, 2004) or in improving the communication skills of human resources in pharmaceutical activities (Lawrence, 2007). A pure theoretical perspective on the interaction between biological behavioral systems and their environment was also developed (Germana, 1996).

This study aims at identifying through transactional analysis the main domains in which the institutional communication in forestry sector in Romania is difficult, inefficient or even impossible due to the divergent ways in which the stakeholders are dealing with the institutional and legal framework. Therefore the next section presents some important issues of Romanian forestry, its relevant structures and the threats these structure are facing with. Since this is the first application of TA in exploring the communication bottlenecks occurred in forestry the third section will be dedicated to a short presentation of transaction analysis core theory. The results are presented in the forth secion, the comments and discussions in the fifth section and the coclusions are drown in the last section.

A snapshot on Romanian forestry - potential sources for communication pitfalls

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The most significant change brought out in Romanian forestry during the last two decades is the ownership pattern (Figure 1). After 1989, when the communist regime collapsed, the forests have been restituted to the families and communities who had owned them before 1948, the year when all forests were nationalized by the communist regime. Unfortunately the restitution process has been taken a very long time due to the three separate laws issued on this subject between 1991 and 2005, when the final law of land restitution was issued [1] (Strimbu et al., 2005).

Depending on the complexity of each case and the political context the restitution process could have lasted about one year or more; during this period the forests were still owned by the state and the National Forest Administration - Romsilva [2] (NFA) has been legally authorized to harvest the trees according to the provisions of forest management plan (Sandulescu et al., 2007). The stakeholders involved into the restitution process are the forest owners (and often the forest owners associations), the NFA representative, the Territorial Inspectorates of Forest Regime and Hunting (TIFRH), the local administration representatives. The NFA rights to harvest trees during the restitution process has brought about, on the one hand, a lot of frustration among the forests owners and, on the other hand, has made room for a series of abuses of the NFA representatives, extensively reported by the media.

During the whole ownership restitution process little has been done in order to adjust the NFA personnel structure to the ever-changing ownership pattern; actually, all the time the state foresters considered themselves the only professionals able to manage the woods in a sustainable way, paying no attention to the social issues and the manner in which their activity is perceived by the general public (Lawrence and Szabo, 2005; Mantescu and Vasile, 2009) . Hence the state foresters are always astound by different changes they would not have been prepared for; the most important 'surprise' is the personnel diminution supposed to keep up with the forest area owned and managed by the state. Another important aspect worth being highlighted in this context is the political interference: none of the political parties empowered after the five democratic elections was seriously interested in reorganizing the NFA because this institution has provided and is still providing the most effective logistic support the politicians might find in Romania when it comes to campaigning for general elections. Therefore the whole system is still extremely unstable especially at the beginning of each four years election cycle and is not able to consistently pursue any forest policy the public authority might conceive.

The actual network of the nine TIFRHs (Figure 2) has been created in 2005. According to the Government Decision 333/2005 the nine TIFRHs are responsible for a long list of activities, the most important ones being the forest regime implementation. According to new Forest Act ([Anon], 2008) the forest regime is defined not only as a set of norms and standards aiming at sustainable forest management but it implies the quite vague concept of "forest services" that shall be provided by forestry professional structures only. To some extent the concept of forest regime bridges the three continuously evolving terms of forest, forestry and forester, which are fundamentally linked (Helms, 2002). Because most of the inspectors employed in the TIFRHs network are either lacking professional experience or they resulted from the re-organized NFA structures, they are either inexperienced in dealing with wood smugglers and illegal logging or over-experienced in preventing or tracking down illegal cutting [3] ([Anon], 2005).

The whole picture of potential conflicts between NFA and TIFRH would be unfinished without pinpointing the differences in wages: for a long period of time the NFA personnel have negotiated the salary with an employer which was autonomous from the financial point of view while the forest inspectors have been paid like any regular governmental employees, or even worse. Sooner or later, the best graduates are being employed by NFA, while the TIFRH would employ what has been left on the labor market, even though the former structure is dismantling while the latter is emerging. This situation has caused a lot of frustration on both sides, which explain the permanent hidden conflict between the two prevailing professional stakeholders.

Research method

Basic Concepts of Transaction Analysis

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Transactional Analysis (TA) is a both a social psychology instrument and a method to improve communication. It analyzes how we have developed and treated ourselves, how we relate and communicate with others. Eric Berne coined it by the end of '50s and turned it out into a new philosophy of social and business networking (Berne, 1961, 1964). The key concepts the TA relies on are the three states in which the 'ego' interacts with the rest of the world; these states are responsible for the ways we think, feel and behave and they are called Child, Adult, and Parent; in the diagrams and symbolized transactions these three state will be further referred as C, A and P.

The Parent state is defined as a set of feelings, ideas and beliefs the child has copied from her or his parents or caretakers; it operates with rules, concepts, prejudgments, norms and authoritative patterns (Pitman, 1984). Whenever we are trying to control something the Parent state is activated. There are two types of Parents: the Nurturing Parent, whose only priority is caretaking, and the Controlling (or Critical) Parent, who makes s/his best to transfer values and beliefs to the Child, at any cost.

The Adult state features the ability to process various data and information; whenever decisions shall be made the Adult state is getting involved. An Adult is emotionally mature, autonomous and concerned with societal issues. Elisabeth Pitman (Pitman, 1984) have considered that Adult state is not an autonomous state but only a middleman between Parent and Child, activated whenever it necessary to reconcile the internal conflicts between them. An adult talks reasonably and does not try to control or react.

The Child state is associated with emotional and affective responses to whatever situations occurred. Usually this state is associated with doubts, fears and uncertainty, and statements like "I don't know how to go for…"I don't know how I'd manage this situation" or "I don't know what to do" are typical for the ones who are in this state. Corresponding to the two types of Parent, the Child performs like a Rebel or a Natural Child.

All these ego states are activated and interact whenever two or more persons are discussing a certain subject. The general term used for any exchange of ideas is transaction, meant as "an explicit bilateral commitment to a well-defined course of action (Berne, 1964, 1972) or "the basic unit of study and a social intercourse which occurs when one person encounters another and says or does something to acknowledge the other person" (Wachtel, 1980).

According to Berne (op cit) there are two major types of transactions: complementary transactions, occurred only at social (verbal) level, and duplex transactions, occurred both at social and psychological (non-verbal) levels.

Simple transactions can be complementary, angular, and crossed. Complementary (reciprocal) transactions (Figure 3) occurred when both partners are addressing the state other is already in: for instance, PC-CP, or AA-AA transactions are complementary. Whenever such a transaction occurs the communication is not jeopardized and the two persons keep on exchanging ideas. The angular transaction occurs whenever a stimulus is meant to trigger another state of the ego, meaning that the psychological message does not overlap the verbal stimulus (Figure 4). Crossed transactions occur when the ego state addressed in not the one that responds (Figure 5) and this type of transaction transactions turns into communication failures.

Duplex transactions occur when the verbal message is not congruent with the non-verbal message. Such a transaction involves three or four ego states; such transactions can be blocking or tangential, and they are also referred to as redefining transactions, meaning that the person who responds shifts the ground of what is being discussed, usually without any awareness (Stewart, 1996). In a tangential transaction the respondent changes the perspective of the discussed issue, while the blocking transaction occurs when the respondent tries to redefine the issue. Having defined these basic concepts, communication processes are ruled as follows (Berne, 1972).

As long as transactions are complementary people keep on communicating to each other.

Whenever a crossed transaction occurs the communication stops and one of the two partners should change he/s ego state in order to resume the dialogue.

The outcome of a duplex transaction depends on the psychological level, not on the social one.

When a Child state is triggered into a respondent, the natural propensity of that person is to address the Parent state of the other person.

Methodology of assessing the communication patterns in Romanian forestry (Case study)

The input information consisted of the records taped during the nine workshops hosted by the TIFRHs; these events took place in the summer of 2007; on average, each event gathered about 40 participants, standing for the main stakeholders involved directly in forestry, forest management and nature conservation. Meetings had a three-day common agenda. During the first meeting day the forest inspectors received a short and practical training on internal and external communicating (including with media representatives), which means, according to TA philosophy, the capacity to shift quickly from one ego state to another one in order to avoid crossed transaction with journalists. The second day was devoted to chaired discussions amongst the professionals (foresters, authorities, private and state forest administrations) on three pre-defined subjects: forest management planning, day-to-day forest management and sound use of wood. During the third day all locally and regionally relevant stakeholders joined the initial group of forest owners and professionals and the discussions were oriented towards a better communication with local administrations, Police, Gendarmerie, environmental protection agencies and so forth. Stakeholders' profiles were defined while analyzing the dialogues and the prevailing ego state were kept for further interpretation.

The default ego state assumed for any stakeholder is Adult, providing that no other stimulus would have changed this state. But, once the debates kicked off most of stakeholders have changed their ego states. Thus the parent state was mainly associated to those who are standing for whatever authority: professional authority, lawful authority or even the authority given by the statute of owning a piece of land.

The Child state has been associated with ignorance and lack of any substantial support from local authorities, and forest owners fall into this category, as they usually lack the basic information needed for a minimal understanding of the reasons behind different concepts and norms they have to obey. They fill these gaps with different assumptions concerning the roles played by the forestry professionals they are facing with: rangers, inspectors, managers and planners. Usually, not only in our case study but also in literature this state is associated with doubts, fears and uncertainty, and it is testified by expressions like "I don't know how to go for…"I don't now how I'd manage," I don't know what to do…"

Considering that attitudes are rather expressed by raised questions than answered given, the prevailing ego states were identified using the correspondences summarized in Table 1. Having to discuss different issues, the TIFRH inspectors behave like parents since they represent the state authority; the NFA forest engineers keep on thinking like adults, while the Child state prevailed whenever the forest owners were addressing different issues they are facing with. The forest owners were always complaining about different issues; the law is against them or it is enforced in a wrong manner, nobody is supporting them, they have to obey certain rules broken by rangers employed by the state forest district and so forth.

The NFA forest engineers are the most experienced in managing the forests due to a very sophisticated information system wherein all technical details shall be reported in due time. Their 'Adult style' approach relies to a great extent on this information system, which is very consistent when it comes to the juridical issues related to land use, preventing illegal timber thefts and cutting budget but is obsolete in many other respects (forest regeneration, forest management planning, timber cruising, outsourcing different services and activities, bureaucracy created by a very centralized system). Although only engineers represented the NFA at the nine workshops, the individual forest owners discussed a lot about the conflicts they have had with forest rangers that always behave like Parents and take over a lot of duties related timber cruising (which is preferentially planned and carried out). Not surprisingly, the forest rangers were also accused for being involved in illegal cuttings and this discontent has always shown up or has been suggested during the 27 meetings organized with the forest owners.

The forest inspectors employed by the TIFRH usually behave like Parents since they are responsible with supervising and implementing the legal provisions. Correspondingly in most situations they trigger or they want to trigger the Child state in the person they are talking with subjects related to forestry and forest management.

The difficult problems all stakeholders have to deal with were identified in each workshop and the moderators tried to figure out the appropriate category wherein each specific bundle of problems falls into: technical (T), legal (L), managerial (M) or communicational (C). The degree to which how important a problem is ranges from extremely important (***) to quite important (*); this degree was appraised and agreed on the spot by stakeholders and it was reported in the workshop memos.


Transactional analyses on subjects discussed at workshops

Facing the different challenges they have to deal with, or difficulties in giving the right answers to the question raised by other speakers, the stakeholders have swapped from the Adult state to Parent or Child, and these swaps were kicked off by the problems summarized in Error: Reference source not found

The records were analyzed according to TA principles but only the prevailing subjects or transactions have been further analyzed, keeping in mind the goal of such a study, which is to highlight how the communication bottleneck can be avoided or, if not possible, to pinpoint the main causes of having a poor communication.

In Table 3 the main communication problems identified during the workshops have been synthesized. The degree to which each problem was technical, juridical or simply a communication failure was established on the spot according to the common opinion shared by all participants. The transactions that caused communication blockages are presented and briefly commented; the transaction type was diagnosed afterwards considering the additional questions or comments raised by moderators.

Transactional analysis of the campaign slogan

So far transactions were sought in the dialogues between stakeholders assumed to speak up their feelings and thoughts. But the campaign slogan is just a 'standardized' message supposed to produce a reaction in the target audience. When the slogan is seen on a poster, a sheet of paper, an envelope or a folder it hints some information and some attitudes behind or beyond, it is a stimulus sent by somebody who, by default, is an Adult. The ego state triggered by that stimulus could be Adult, Child or Parent. Whatever it be, that person will react somehow, will ask for more information if the Child state is activated, will try to put together all pieces of the puzzle s/he already knows - if the Adult state is triggered - or s/he'll be 'enriched' with a new sense of responsibility, if the Parent state is triggered.

The campaign slogan was "Forest means more than timber". Psychologically, such a message triggers curiosity, which is typical for the Child, who, in most situations, will address a Parent, asking for more details about what is behind "more"; thus an angular transaction (AA(AC)-CP) might occur if nothing interesting is behind that "more" and the dialogue comes to down in the world (Figure 6).

The initial slogan, which was "Forest means life", would have triggered responsibility, which is typical for the Parent state (the psychological message tells that life shall be always prioritized and shall be protected at any cost); the new angular duplex transaction (figure 7) would have been (AA(AP)-PP. Unfortunately, this message was considered too close to the WWF slogan and was not adopted.


The poor communication between TIFRH inspectors and NFA foresters is caused by the many situations when their duties overlaps as well as by the reciprocal lack of confidence. Forest inspectors are always raising questions about the good will of their colleagues while forestry staff is complaining about the weak professional experience proved sometimes by the forest inspectors. The bureaucratic process of reporting different data to the NFA, on the one hand, and to the forest inspectorates, on the other hand, causes many communication bottlenecks too. Assuming the NFA staff had to report only to TIFRH, 'ignoring' the intermediate structures of county NFA branches, a great deal of effort would be saved and most of the crossed transactions would not have occurred. Actually these intermediate structures of NFA, the county branches, are functionally and institutionally useless as long as their role confines to simple middlemen between the forest districts and the NFA national headquarters.

Poor communication and even conflicts between forest owners and authorities have been brought about by the compensation system that does not address the forest owners' associations; according to the existing legal framework, only the individual forest owners are compensated for the opportunity cost of harvesting ban they have to comply with, which is compulsory in protected areas. It was found that a strictly protected area (Putna Natural Park) entirely overlaps a bunch of mature forests owned by a community in Vrancea County. The regional Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is the authority responsible for implementing the environmental legislation, has overlooked the real needs of the local people whose welfare completely depends on timber harvesting, which is one of the few economic activities they afford in that area. Talking with authorities responsible for nature protection the forest owners usually behave like Adults and they try to trigger the same state to their interlocutors, although their psychological inner state is Child. The EPA representative behaved in both registers, social and psychological, like a Controlling Parent and cross transaction are inevitable in these circumstances.

The AA-PC crossed transaction occurred between forest owners and foresters (i.e. forestry engineers) on the subject of small-scale forest management plans because the two stakeholders have different perceptions about the outcome of having or not having a management plan. On the one hand, the foresters associate the forest management plan with the very existence of the forest - they simply consider that an un-managed forests cannot exists, it is just a matter of time until all trees will be chopped down - while the forest owner understand the management plan as a pre-condition of having the right to cut some trees whenever s/he needs. On the other hand the forest owner is not at all concerned about the sustainability issue, s/he considers the management plan just an additional cost that shall be paid for having the right to use the forest. The forest owner behaved like an adult and asked another adult about what s/he has to do, while the reply came from a Parent to a Child. The Child is always considered less responsible and this reaction is a counter-transfer one (Berne, 1966).

The same subject of managerial plans has brought out duplex transactions between planners and the forest owners. The small-scale forest management plans are conceived like trade-off between enforcing and not enforcing the forest regime, since the sustain-yield principle is just mimicked; it is just a counterfeit solution, since no technical argument can support such an option, excepting for the cadastral aspect. The duplex transaction PC-CP (AA-AA) occurred between management planners and forest owners was not a crossed one, because in both registers, social and psychological, the two transactions were complementary.

Another duplex transaction AA-AA (PC-AC) was revealed by one chief inspector who had advised the steering committee of an association to come into the timber market with the valuable timber they were harvesting for being burned as fuel-wood. The forest inspector came up with a simple barter proposition: to change the valuable ash wood, worth being used for veneer, with an equivalent amount of fuel-wood. The forest inspectorate role confined to advertising this proposition among logging companies or the TIRSH may involve in developing regional markets or stock exchange, as to maintain its the full independence on commercial activities (asta e tot idea ta Marian). The communication onto the social register was Adult to Adult - both sides approached the subject in a responsible manner - but in the psychological register a cross transaction occurred once a forest owner said: "Well, you have a peculiar interest in doing such a transaction, don't you?" Afterwards all members of the steering committee became suspicious and reluctant in going for that business proposal. They finally refused the idea, confirming a Rebel Child state of the collective ego represented by the association.

Additional communication problems exist within the foresters' professional body: the NFA structure has fallen behind the changes brought out in the whole institutional network, which is being reshaped according to the latest Forest Act provisions . The internal information system is obsolete, top-down oriented while people are asked to send the same type of report to the newly created institutions, legitimized by the legal framework to keep an eye on all activities more or less related to timber flow.

In addition to a contagious lack of confidence between institutions and people, another source of misunderstandings is the inappropriate pattern of the public road transportation documents that certify the legal origin of the timber. It is a simple issue but worth being closely analyzed and altered in accordance with the situations found on the real market.

The lack of confidence in professional foresters, shown up in many circumstances, is very dangerous because it undermines any effort in providing the so much needed forest extension services. While people still ultimately need firewood for household consumption (heating, cooking), inevitably they have to interrelate with the foresters' professional body, but the only persons they are effectively interfacing with are the forest rangers, who are the least interested in changing their own status quo. Eventually the information they get from this channel is meant to distort the whole communication chain and this is one of the reasons why so many crossed transactions occurred.


All in all, the debates and discussions presented above have shown the way in which the main individual and institutional stakeholders are interacting: the forest inspectors, the professional foresters employed by the forest districts and the forest owners.

In most situations the forest owners have complained they are playing a too complex game, being completely unaware of the responsibility they had undertaken; these people are still suspicious with the foresters as long as they do not understand the rules of cutting the trees, rules that are too thorny for them and nobody takes care of teaching them. Therefore the forest owners often react as rebel children and the only explanation for this behavior is the lack of confidence in foresters and forestry structures. The only way to overcome this situation is to teach some forest owners some basic forestry in order to create a communication bridge between the foresters, as institutional stakeholders, and the forest owners, as social stakeholders.

The state forestry sector has been very reluctant to any change in its immediate environment, with entire forest staff nucleated around the claimed principle of sustainable forestry, which is narrowly focused on sustained yield only, without any social and ecological perspective. This could be one of the main communication bottlenecks between the state forest sector and the whole society.

As for the private forestry, the bottom line is its weak capacity building, which actually has a negative effect on the manner the forest owners mingle and react to the stimuli sent by institutional stakeholders. Most of the subjects that generated crossed transactions where more technical and managerial, meaning that Romanian forest policy has not yet been adapted to the new ownership structure of Romania forests; technically speaking, Romanian forestry is too complicated for the small forest owner and some differentiations shall urgently be made in this respect. The only reasonable solutions shall be sought in encouraging people to openly discuss their problems and not in confining the whole debate to what it is allowed and what is forbidden.

The forest authority shall also take into account of the opportunities the forest owners have in managing their forests in a sustainable way or, if not possible, to prioritize more the forest regeneration process instead of controlling the harvesting process; such a policy would make people more responsible with respect to the forests they own. This study has shown many breaches in having a smooth Adult-to-Adult communication between the forest authorities and prevailing stakeholders.

Nevertheless, this type of analysis could be helpful in diagnosing and improving the communication process and its benefits are about to come providing that forest inspectors will get appropriate training in transactional analysis, which has been just glimpsed in this study.

Acknowledgements. The basic information used in this study was produced between 2007 and 2009, during the awareness campaign that closed the Forestry Development Project, run by the World Bank and Romanian Government.


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