University of Oulu

Sarkki, S., Jokinen, M., Heikkinen, H. I., Nijnik, M., Melnykovych, M., & Kluvánková, T. (2022). “ Going out to get in”—Roles of forest conflicts in bottom-linked environmental governance progressing toward socio-political innovations. Environmental Policy and Governance, 32( 6), 478– 491.

“Going out to get in” : roles of forest conflicts in bottom-linked environmental governance progressing toward socio-political innovations

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Author: Sarkki, Simo1; Jokinen, Mikko2; Heikkinen, Hannu I.1;
Organizations: 1Cultural Anthropology, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2LUKE, Natural Resources Institute Finland, Rovaniemi, Finland
3Social Economic and Geographical Sciences Department, James Hutton Institute, Aberdeen, Scotland, UK
4Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences (HAFL), Bern University of Applied Sciences, Zollikofen, Switzerland
5SlovakGlobe: IFE, Slovak Academy of Sciences and IM, Slovak University of Technology, Bratislava, Slovakia
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.6 MB)
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Language: English
Published: John Wiley & Sons, 2022
Publish Date: 2023-05-29


Social innovation literature focuses commonly on roles of cooperation in addressing co-evolution of civil society initiatives and state-based governance toward sustainable solutions. However, roles of conflicts in driving social change are scarcely addressed in social innovation literature. We elaborated a concept of bottom-linked environmental governance, which can take place either via collaboration, or by conflict, and which can progress toward socio-political innovations. We show this progression by examining two longitudinal cases on forest controversies in Northern Finland. These are the cases of Inari and Muonio. They are characterized by dynamic processes of conflicts and collaboration between state-based organizations (e.g., Finnish forestry enterprise of Metsähallitus), civil society actors (e.g., reindeer herders, nature-based tourism entrepreneurs and environmental nongovernmental organizations). We conducted a qualitative deductive-inductive content analysis on the study cases and uncovered a set of “going out to get in” strategies by civil society actors, emerging from frustration on state-based participatory processes, and consisting of open disputes and pressure strategies outside the participatory processes to gain a seat and power at negotiation tables. Metsähallitus often responded by seeking to maintain its control over forest decisions. The interplay between these strategies led to continuous open disputes and finally to socio-political innovations (e.g., comanagement arrangement). The findings lead us to discuss reasons for prolonged disputes, the question of whether sociopolitical innovations can benefit all, considerations on power relations, strategies, and counter responses, all being relevant more broadly, for both, social innovation research and decision-making enabling socio-political innovations.

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Series: Environmental policy and governance
ISSN: 1756-932X
ISSN-E: 1756-9338
ISSN-L: 1756-932X
Volume: 32
Issue: 6
Pages: 478 - 491
DOI: 10.1002/eet.2020
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 616 Other humanities
Funding: This research received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreements (GA) of 677622 (SIMRA). It was also partly funded by the Rural & Environment Science & Analytical Services Division of the Scottish Government through its Strategic Research Programme (2022–2027), Swiss Government Excellence (ESKAS) Grant No. 2019.0425, Slovak Grant agency VEGA 2/0170/21 Management of global change in vulnerable areas, and by the University of Oulu TransArct (Transformation and Social Innovation for Sustainable Arctic Communities, 2018-2021) project (
EU Grant Number: (677622) SIMRA - Social Innovation in Marginalised Rural Areas
Copyright information: © 2022 The Authors. Environmental Policy and Governance published by ERP Environment and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium,provided the original work is properly cited.