Reviva, a System for Addressing
New Rural Opportunities
by Robert H. Giles, Jr., Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, System Ecology, College of Natural Resources, Virginia Tech and Advisor, Rural System
Champe Green, MS., Environmental Consultant, xxx, Virginia
Gerald Cross, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Former Wildlife extension specialist and department head, College of Natural Resources, Virginia Tech
and Alinda Uzel, Regional Supervisor, Virginia Cooperative Extension, King and Queen, Virginia
The authors believe that we have a collective new awareness of rapid changes in human population densities, land uses, group and family interests, recreation and leisure, communication technology, urbanization, globalization, and interest in accountability. That awareness suggests the need for formulating a revised general model of desired behavior of a state-level extension or out-reach group (hereinafter "Extension.". In our view conservation assistance and land use program gains have not been adequate. Although dated (1977), we think the observations of the General Accounting Office may hold. Those were that conservation policies grounded in volunteerism and economic incentives (payments) have proven remarkably ineffective over the last 50 years. Adoption of innovations (at least by our set of standards), has been slow under current Extension models.
McEvoy et al. (1988) examined the disappointing results of conservation assistance programs (as one example of a practice, technique, or program...a "unit") from the perspective of communications research and suggested that, although the programs offered to landowners provide a technical and service-oriented approach, the programs lack interpersonal communication network processes that affect motivation for and influence adoption of management practices. Deknatel (1979) took a more economic view in suggesting that the uneven history of federal and state wildlife habitat programs since the New Deal has been largely a result of continuing vulnerability to shifts in federal policy and to shifts in agricultural and forestry markets, technology, and costs. Given these economic and production pressures, it has been hard for landowners to maintain wildlife management, natural resource, and tourism practice for long periods of time. Presley (1981) observed that differences in organizational structures, philosophies, and objectives between forestry, wildlife, and agricultural agencies contributed to a lack of coordination among (and associated ineffectiveness of) their respective assistance programs.We believe these changes are being perceived by society as well and that they will require and support a new model. They have expressed displeasure with former models. The model described here is appropriate for the natural resource agency, non-profit organization, the emerging new rural conglomerate, and for most people attempting to move a rural product or service into beneficial use.
Clients and Targets
We have found differences in the target or audiences of Extension models suggesting direct approaches to:
All of these may be related. Each tends to be described for clarity and acceptance as a desirable approach. Each has been studied for efficiencies and, in some cases, effectiveness (i.e., efficiently achieving stated objectives). We have learned from these approaches and insights, but we think that challenges have changed significantly.
As we study effectiveness, we see that Extension activities, in the delivery and audiences selected, the supply of information available, and demand for it, change with many forces. These include the strength of the economy, responses to people with the least pressing needs, effects of years of unstable and under-investment, and lack of funds for innovation. We think an alternative model needs to be advanced for stud,editing, and adoption. We find the model that we shall describe to be itself an object to be "extended" and we risk herein harsh criticism of (1) those readers who are one "public" that we intend to address soon and (2) those whom we seem to omit. Perhaps readers, including those generally within Extension as well as their clients, need to receive the extended message and to act upon it.
We support others who have in past years advocated a "systems approach" within Extension work, and we beg for special consideration of the formulation advanced here. We are aware of the many diverse, often contorted versions of that named approach and thus do not use the phrase because it has now become meaningless. We call the recommended overall procedure of a modern revised dynamic general system approach for modern rural area development Reviva. It goes beyond conventional extension and outreach work which we see (with some exceptions) as largely communication, advocacy, promotion, teaching, demonstration, and organizational and group process efforts. (Here we exclude the essential administrative, legislative, and logistic functions. We do not address expanding urban programs that are already competing effectively for staff and funding and services with the enomity of un-met and growing rural needs.) We assume the existence, as in the past, of many sources of information and ideas (an excess) for land owners and rural residents - libraries; university research; product, service, and corporate representatives, etc.)
We discuss objectives and their meaning and types elsewhere but we think that the working objective of the local cooperative extension or outreach (hereinafter Reviva) should be
to start and actively assist in making operational and effective the structures and services to achieve over time a high proportion of pre-specified benefits from a large diverse set of precisely defined and quantified objectives of citizens of the region.This work is for achieving a flow of "precisely defined and quantified" benefits with dimensions of time, space, variety, and energy (or equivalent matter).
The above is a special statement for if implemented, it requires at the end, as the end state of the system's performance:
It is Skinnerian in that it evaluates observed behavior and its consequences, giving little or no credit for changing attitudes or for clients being able to answer questions (as on written tests). If these attitudes or abilities do not result in observable and significantly different changes, then there is unlikely to be "learning" or adoption of practices and behaviors, the previously-asserted desired consequence of Extension. In the rural world, by harsh overgeneralized analogy with educational psychology, if no learning has occurred, no teaching has occurred.
Of course , after Extension activity for youths, major changes cannot be expected to be seen. Knowledge and skills need to be built -- as if in investment in the changes to come later (e.g., the seedling investment for the future forest). For youths and other special people,
We do not yet know how to evaluate the frequent Extension activity of forming groups and designing and conducting conferences. The dispersed and delayed consequences of such events, if any, are not likely to be observed (as those implemented by an individual). Like TV programs, they may be viewed at the early stage (perhaps with a recorded date) in casting an idea or opportunities before a non-specific group. Implementation and its evidence may be tracked as a function of the time and place of early group presentations and meetings. Participants may offer testimony to well-developed questionnaires. These may have to suffice, but we see their role as primarily alerting and work-group forming, rarely more. These are the exceptional activities and we wish to hold them tentatively for later work and theoretical construction and revisions.
We wish to proceed and emphasize that the above suggested objective probably requires measured desired change and continuing profits at a desired level. For this to occur, the present condition must be measured well and reported well and the investment made, not only for the new form, but also for the planned comparisons that are to be made among
Effectiveness of extension can only be measured in terms of the stated objective and in amount of desired, intended change (including zero), and that requires a clear answer to "as to compared to what?" The comment of "Good work!" for Extension activity has no meaning unless with an answer to the above question. "As compared to no work?" (Perhaps not investing can be wise.) "Excessively expensive for the changed behavior achieved?" "Would the change occur naturally, given present trends, thus no need for investment?" "Change (e.g., in voting, infant mortality, crop or animal production, profit) was achieved, but was it significant (yes, statistically-speaking, beyond a limit, at least 90% accurate, and with less than 15% probability that observed difference is due to chance or natural trends) and great enough to compete with and not be obscured by other current forces and trends?"
We struggle with the appropriate role of the extension agent because the above objective has a strong dimension of the final product, the completed structure, the smoothly operating process, the consistent behavior ... all of which take time and money to complete. Previously, the agent's role has been seen as communicating an idea or technique, perhaps assisting further in implementing that, but rarely is credit for the final product seen as that for the agent, only the client. There are exceptions as in milk-quality analysis systems, and created organizations, but the generalization is well-recognized. The agent "extends" the work and ideas of people and teams within the university to the farmer or rural worker. They may receive it or not. The "out-reach" of the university's research findings is through Extension to the producer and the emphasis for incentives and rewards has been on the message and the medium, not the results. It has been on producing benefits and services, providing supply in a market, providing new things , but with small demand or large competition. It has been said to be producing opportunities, not accomplishments, but taking credit when such does occurs and using that to encourage increased production of opportunities.
We now believe that the measure of effectiveness of a similar revised organization, Reviva, and its roles is change in expected net discounted returns per $10 K invested.
We have reached this point reluctantly, but we now believe that all of the other goals, objectives, aspirations and continuity of trust ("the good messenger"), connections, efficiencies, team-building, transfers within families and communities are contingent upon and constrained by an adequately-funded Extension. That now seems, with its youth and group limitations mentioned above, likely only under a rigidly-controlled budget. It should be from the public for there the cost effectiveness can be experienced. If not there (we think of no gains from procrastination when the needs for important services and function are so great), then diverse private enterprise is needed and it too must stabilize cash flow at least one unit past the margin.
The Extension Action
We have simplified a view of two major parts of Reviva action , the proponent (hereinafter the Agent) (and extensive support staff and facilities) and the Client. These categories symbolize little more than the sender and receiver of information, proposal, suggestion, or answer to a real question. The Agent is the proponent, the answer to who of "who extends what?" The Client is the person or group to which the agent on behalf of the university or new rural business "reaches out." We assume an almost infinitely large set of possibilities of topics to be communicated, but this narrows quickly under the above-stated profit objective. As we examine the sequential steps in Table 1,
|Table 1. Sequence of steps from an Agent presenting a concept, to that of a Client implementing it|
|Proponent or Agent
Thus we hold to the above objective of gaing implementation and financial return over time on the rural land holding and related enterprises.Proponents should report the cessation of the client (#20, 21, or 23), not the failure of an Extension technique or practice but ( where applicable) the lack of client effort or the loss of a client.
As we see the developing system and its structure, functions and relations, we see the major parts as:
A Process Example
The adoption-diffusion model, as advanced by Rogers and Shoemaker (1971), has been credited with remarkable success in technology transfer within the medical and agriculture industries. Opinion-leading subgroups of the populations of medical and agricultural professionals have often been tremendously effective in diffusing innovations to their peers. Particularly within agriculture, opinion-leading farmers that have adopted an innovation seem to be most effective of all messengers in convincing other farmers to adopt as well. The interpersonal farmer-to-farmer interaction apparently helps mitigate the difficult evaluation and decision stages of the adoption process. The model seems to have great potential as a means for influencing rural land and resource owners and managers to actively manage their forests and related resources (Applegate 1981; Berryman 1981)... and we expand this to managing their total land and water system.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Cooperative Extension Service (CES) has been acclaimed for its technology transfer program in helping to build what is said to be the most productive agriculture in the world. While agriculture in America is certainly laudable in terms of food production, costs borne by the taxpayer in support of past and present farm bills, deleterious changes in rural communities, soil losses, loss of wetlands, decline in water quantity and quality, and loss of wildlife habitats have been recognized by many people as debits on the American agriculture balance sheet. The secondary consequences of projects are well known and are as difficult to estimate in agriculture as elsewhere. We work toward disseminating innovations in rural technology (broadly speaking) but only those that have desired effects, positive net consequences, and longterm expected net estimated profits. We work toward diverse dissemination but believe this is inadequate as an objective. The measure of effectiveness must not stop at "the end of the meeeting, the last sentence; the sign-off" but at the estimated flow of profits from the resulting operating program, practice, plant variety, or structure.
For example, we perceive that the CES has not been very effective in transfering knowledge about effective use of natural resources beyond those of croplands and livestock. Compared with agriculture, wildlife and forestry communications infrastructure, as examples, are neither as extensive nor as well funded. The current CES model has wildlife extension specialists positioned as liaisons for technology transfers between land grant universities and the local county Extension agents. They in turn, diffuse the information to early adopters, who in turn disseminate to later adopters. However, as Schoenfeld (1981) pointed out, "it may not be possible to utilize the network of agents now in place (for the purpose of wildlife information dissemination), for they may be too wedded to promoting agricultural practices that are in fact deleterious to wildlife husbandry practices." Conversely, wild animal population gains may result in pest conditions and economic losses. Schoenfeld continued, "we have to remember that introducing enlightened wildlife management onto private lands may involve alienating land practices rooted not just in old world traditions, but in the assiduous work of relatively recent technology transfer." Such conflicts put agents' funding at risk, impair full disclosure of available information, and limit contacts.
Conflicts in land use and the difficult decisions of the best practices to use on variable tracts on single ownerships are well known. Related difficulties and conflicts are found among cooperatives, legislative groups, and historical interests as they are all influenced by state, national, and international laws, regulations, and tarriffs. Budget reductions and program cessation can abort extensive effective programs and interrupt the adoption-diffusion network between land-grant university, local change agents, and client.
Input to the Client: Advocacy or Response
The model recommended herein requires a decision between Extension (1) advocating a practice, technique, structure, equipment, variety, etc. (hereinafter "a unit") or (2) responding to a request from a client. The differences are those found in discussions of the difference between advertising and marketing. One approach (advertising) starts with the unit and tries to get many in a group to accept it. The other (marketing) starts with studying the clients' needs and tries to get them to adopt units likely to meet them. Wright (1988) for example, found that Virginia land owners had a desire for more advice and assistance with wildlife work than with any other kind of assistance. Trying to provide livestock or forest-related advice would likely have low response. Forest land owner have consistently ranked wildlife, recreation, and tenure above financial returns as the reasons for their land ownership.
We tend to believe that the model that we are developing requires both advertising and marketing strategies because, as in "shopping around", rural citizens may not know what is available, may have extra resources, and may find pleasure and other benefits in purchasing, owning units, holding charter membership, and getting "early-bird" rewards. Advertising may achieve some objectives, but we believe partitioning the market into subgroups or "publics" and working on different approaches to each to elicit their needs and then respond to them will increase the desired rate of behavioral change. Doolittle and Straka (1987) have characterized individuals as falling into categories that define an individual's history of adopting innovations. Formal decision theory does not seem to fit well the decision making pattens of the rural land owner. Not claiming landowner irrationality, we do claim that there are extra resources, demands, values, groups of values, metaphysical grounds, unspoken limits, and risk levels that will not be revealed in classical or tightly-time-constrained decision analyses. Perhaps they may be found within the admixture of "recreation and other non-consumptive lifestyle enhancements. "
We once held that the appropriate extension model was that of identifying early adopters and using them to diffuse the concept and/or practice throughout the rural population. (Land management for ruffed grouse was the test example (Green xxxx)). Parallel work had been done earlier on adotion of hybrid corn. We now believe it is inappropriate, perhaps unkind, to identify "early adopters" perhaps implying indiscriminant, thoughtless action, people who will "buy anything." We now tend to start with the good idea (e.g., about a practice, etc.) rather than with " the early adopter" and progress in analyses of limitations in the idea, the agent's presentation, and the timing, then move to the reception, analyses, and total conditions of the client, then to the difficult conditions of "the start"...then full-scale structural and operational development and proof in profit. When we see extension effectiveness turning on profit, we may not desire many people adopting practices, developing competition, having supply confound prices. We tend to seek the profitable individual and group, lasting employment, extended residency, and investments in sound land management structures (e.g., water control structures, notably absent from short-term profit maximization operations). We want action, but profitable action over time and we know well the partial truth of "Action is a function of the psychological clarity of the individual, the attributes of the knowledge or innovation to be applied) and the social structure in which the individual and innovation exists." There are many other attributes of action and these together suggest the measure of success in achieving desired behavioral change.. ZZZZZ
Risk Takers and Early Adopters
If we could identify them upon first contacts, tendencies of people to adopt practices would increase chances for one measure of Extension success. While our interests are in individuals, programs are constructed and government funds spent to benefit groups. If we exclude gamblers, those with pathologies, those with perverse or illegal intent, and those tho have difficulty dealing with more than the immediate future (i.e., pre-concrete stage of intellectual development Piaget 1979) then we can begin to isolate the appropriate audience, market, or target for Extension. Without such winnowing of the population (say by 15%), then Extension will always be viewed as less than successful by common standards (say greater than 85%).
We can see and count the first adopters but we do not believe that they are special or psychologically unique. They are not within a unique category. The "early adopter" hears the message and does an analysis and accepts the presentation. Another equal person does the same thing and rejects acting. They heard the same presentation; it was equally effective; one accepted and the other rejected for one or more reasons and they could have been profound or trivial. To categorize people now seems flawed. These needs, if any, are to realize and model the many factors upon which that acceptance or rejection decision rests. Sensitivity analyses may reveal the key variables and Extension might attempt to address or manipulate those profoundly influential variables for a group of people with potentials or proclivities to the subject matter of the proposal.
We believe that a theory of reasonable adoption of an Extension "message" (virtually any offering of a technique, method, fact, procedure, etc.) can be defined as:
1 Extension is a system designed and operating to benefit significantly bounded profit from the collective action of a Designated population over a 150-year period (sliding forward one year each year).
2 That profit is:Profit = f(sum of bounded expected present discounted probable gains of all enterprises - sum of bounded expected present discounted probable losses)
3 A major part of the theory is that of a Designated human population of specific sex, age, and income classes. This is part of the system context. Covariance with education, inheritance, national origin, experience, and religeon are known and the high costs and rapid change suggest diseconomies in further population class analyses.
4 Other context elements are that it is (1) appropriate for a "region," typically half the size of a mid-size state of the USA; (2) a singular coordinated activity by an agency or corporation and not merely the collective description of results of uncoordinated activities; (3) for rural and semi-rural populations; (4) subject to current USA laws and regulations, bith national and state.
5 The planning period of 150 years, very long, is not computationally infinity and is related to the life of mature hardwoods, functional buildings, and family-generation memories. It is responsive to gross expressions about the needs for "sustainability." It establishes one length of the financial discounting period. Others may be used for comparison.
6 Bounds are system constraints. Profits cannot be maximized indefinitely. Means or totals provide unsatisfactory results in analyses. Establishing a computable objective is essential and the end results of the system performance measure must fall within lower and upper bounds for the condition or function of the system to be recognized as and called "satisfactory." A desired level of achievement is specified, perhaps empirically, perhaps reflecting a recognized "generally good social condition." Then upper and lower bounds are set. These may not be, and usually should not be, equidistant from the objective. xxxxxx Rough classes of clients have been developed:
Innovators -- are largely venturesome, perhaps almost to an obsession. An innovator accepts risks and hazards and seeks the daring. Rogers (1983:247) found that innovators and early-adopters are about 2.5% of the general population. The innovator often learns about new practices before the Agent. Innovators travel widely, visit with other innovators and scientists and likely to regard the Agent as a technical equal.
Early adopters -- about 13. 5% of the popu1ation, are respected by their peers and often are consulted before others adopt an innovation. Doolittle and Straka (1987) asserted that by concentrating his or her diffusion efforts on opinion leaders, a public forester could reduce the number of landowner contacts by as much as 90%. He agreed with Bunne11 (1988) who concluded that early adopters are most receptive to the external influence of Agents.
Early majority -- people in this category (34%) are often deliberate. They seldom lead.
Late majority--about 34%, are generally skeptics. Often they adopt a new idea only as a reaction to social pressure to conform rather than based on a reasoned decision.
Laggards or traditionalists -- (16%) are steeped in tradition. They tend to be suspicious of any suggestion of change. If a laggard adopts a practice, it may have already become outmoded by a more recent practice. Laggards and late majority are more likely than others to depend upon friends and neighbors in the immediate locality for new information.
Bandura (1986:146) cautioned that using the above Designations or "venturesome" for innovators and "laggards" for late adopters should not be done. Given poor information or a recommendation later found to be harmbuf, the early adopter experiences the down side of risk taking. People are often mesmerized by alluring advertising and try a disadvantageous innovation. Then the late adopter is classified as "astute." Once criticized, the organic farmers of 1954 are now called "super-innovators" (Rogers 1983: 190) .
Rogers (1983:257) made the following generalizations about attributes of early adopters, clients that have also been called opinion leaders. He based the list on an extensive leterature review: More than later adopters, their characteristics are:
Conversely, Dickson was unable to discriminate between early and 1ater adopters on the basis of age, income, occupation, ethnic origin, total size of land holdings, primary reasons for ownership, and length of time of ownership.
Haymond (1985), in the South Carolina piedmont, also failed to find a statistical relationship between early adoption and cost of adoption of a forestry/wildlife practice, ease of application of a forest treatment, age, income,or length of time of ownership. However, she did detect a significant relationship between adoption of silvicultural practices and the importance of improvement of the forest for uses other than timber production.
Large tract size was also found to have had a strong relationship with increased number of silvicultural practices adopted.
In a later study, Haymond (1988),interestingly, found that among a population of identified NIPF owners/opinion leaders, farmers could be distinguished from other business people in their propensity to choose wildlife, recreation and other non-consumptive lifestyle enhancement reasons over economic and timber production reasons for land ownership.
Haymond (1990) further found a clear and positive relationship between adoption of wildlife habitat enhancement practices and hunting. Doolittle and Straka (1987) reported an interesting relationship between the use of consultant foresters by NIPF owners in the south and tract size. The conclusion was drawn that consultants are likely to have the more innovative NIPF clients; and public foresters the less innovative, later adopter, more difficult owners. Surprisingly they found that non-regenerators of forestland were more likely to have consulted with public foresters than with private foresters.
In the agricultural sector, Nowak (1987) offered mixed evidence supporting and refuting some of Rogers' conclusions on opinion-leader attributes. He showed a significant correlation between attendance at field days and early adoption of conservation practices, but no relationship between the number of contacts with CES or Soil Conservation Service (SCS) personnel and conse_vation practices. Tenure of ownership was not significantly correlated with adoption of conservation practices,but size of ownership was. However, Pampel and Van Es ( 1977) found that adoption of environmental measures by farmers was best predicted by tenure, albeit weakly.
The CES at Iowa State University (1951) concluded that a relationship exists between farmers who have sons over 12 years of age who encourage the adoption of new practices and early adoption.opinion leadership.
Farm families that have equitable arrangements for sharing farm income and ownership between father and son tend to be earlier adopters than farmers where the father retains control.
It appear from these studies that size of land holdings and reasons for owneeship are important variables, probably equifinal, and themselves difficult to change or influence so as to change opinion-leading or adoption. They do offer a means to relate to the farmer characteristic and reasons for adopting practices thus to model...the adopter, or the practice being omplemented.
See the population of farmers could be made been the source of much frustration and failure to foresters attempting to diffuse forest management infor-mation. Foresters have typically keyed on owners of large tracts, assuming that these landowners would offer the best marginal response for effort spent in ter-ms of subsequent adoption and diffusion. Working with owners of large tracts may have given the best return on their effort in terms of forest management adoption, owners of large tracts may not have been found necessarily be the best disseminators of management information. Similarly, as discussed earlier, foresters have often misread landowners' intentions for owning forest land, thus wasting resources and time and alienating them with inappropriate
The Interests of the Client: Broad or Narrow ? (Polymorphic or Monomorphic ?)
Merton (1957) suggested that opinion-leading individuals fall into two categories: monomorphic or polymorphic. Monomorphic influentials are the experts in alimited field and their influence does not diffuse into other spheres of decision. Others, and these include a good number of top influentials, are polymorphic,exertinginterpersonal influencein a variety of sometimes seemingly unrelated spheres. This phenomena raises a question as to whether an otherwise opinion-leading plantation tree farmer can exert influence over a later adopter tree farmer who owns natural stands, or vice versa; or whether a forester is credible to an owner who seeks good wildlife management through forestry, as discussed earlier. King and Summers (1970) found in a study of opinion leadership and consumer product categories that only 31% of the population did not qualify as opinion leading in any category. Polymorphic opinion leadership was found to be highest between product categories which involved similar interests. However, as suggested by Rogers (1983:275), the phenomena of homophily and heterophily between change agent and adopter may confound diffusion efforts of monomorphic or polymorphic opinion leaders. Discussion of these phenomena will follow in the section on social structure.
Opinion leadership seems
25 dynamic along a continuum of ethnicities, age classes, gender, and even among adopter categories themselves. For example, change agents may best accomplish their goal of behavior modification through innovative opinion leaders and not through traditional thinking opinion leaders (Haymond 1985) .
Adoption of Innovations Wildlife management on private lands is incompatible with some deep-seated owner values and needs; it is complex; its trialability is not simple; and its observability is long in coming Schoenfeld (1981) Rogers (1983:189) suggested that there are t__types of knowledge that are of main concern to the individual when adopting an innovation--what is the innovation, how does it work, and why does it work. Other areas of concern for the adopter, depending on the innovation being evaluated, might with adopt_ _ _ innovation and the potential for an embarasse_ feeling_ 1 _= 3do_tc_ after having had an unsatisfactory experience _be financial risks ---associated the with the innovation. The decision to adopt an innovation,along _ the rate and pattern of adoption are influenced by _ at tr i bu tes of the innovation i tse 1 f (Bandura 1986:15_; Rogers 1983:231; Stewart 1990) . These attributes are: relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, trialability, and observability. A brief discussion of each
Relative Advantage Relative advantage is the de___e to which an innovation is perceived as being better than tbe idea it supersedes. Relative advantage may be perceived _n adopter as being ility or )heightened statu_ __ _ _ -_ \L__\_' __ Rate of adoption of an innovation is generally _sitivel_ _ to its perceived relative advantage. The strong encouragement offered by many public and private foresters to the NIPF owner to clearcut forest stands is often based upon the hypothesis that clearcutting will offer relatively advantageous economic return as compared to other silvicultural treatment. In agriculture, critics of the classic adoption-diffusion model suggest that no economic advantage and relatively little status have typically been conferred upon those adoptinglbenviror:\m environmentally sensitive thus explain the slow rate and pattern of conservation farming methods. From this farming methods, of adoption phenomenon, these same critics inferred that the classic adoption-diffusion model may not be useful outside of the context of commercial agriculture and agribusiness (Pampel and Van Es 1977) Within these 2 areas, the model has been utilized very profitably by some, but often at economic loss to others. Flora (1992, pers.comm.) however, contended that, rather than the adoption-diffusion
27 model being at fault, the model actually is useful in suggesting that rewards (i.e., press coverage, prizes be necessary where economic advantage is not guaranteed.
Compatibility With Needs and Values
Compatibility of an innovation is the degree to which that innovation i s per-ceived as consistent with the existing values, past exper-iences, ideas, and needs of a potential adopter. The greater the compatibility Shelton (1981) stated that most of innovation, the of the motivational quicker- the rate of adoption. factors that involve landowner-s and wildlife on private lands fall into thr-ee levels of needs as defined by Maslow (1970): love, esteem/and self-actalization. _ Kellert (1976),(naturalistic, humanistic, human moralistic and ecologistic) of towards an ima I s, involve kinship) and spiritualism, all of which can be associated with platonic love or- feelings of love. NIPF owners who are attitudes feelings of affection, early adopters of wildlife management practices may be acting as such par-tially to fulfill this need. Others may act out of more utilitar-ian, aesthetic, or dominionistic needs. Some landowners, realizing the ecological importance of wildlife in a forest ecosystem (i.e.,for regenerating
plants, nutrient cycling, or controlling insects) may act out of an ecologic or scientific attitude toward wildlife. Perhaps professionals working with NIPF owners air to identify the level of need or attitude toward wildlife held by the owner before prescribing an innovation that would satisfy the compatibility issue. As Maslow (1970) indicated, esteem may be avery powerful motivational force in adoption. Schoenfeld (1981) theorized a cognitive dissonance model framed around an individual's esteem.
For example, a person may start to recycle cans, bottles and paper not because of concern about resource scarcity or waste disposal , but because of neighborhood pressure (and thus, threats to esteem).
Later, because this motive does not sustain the inconvenience of recycling, the individual seeks information that helps resolve their feelings of dissonance, and he or she may next form an attitude of genuine ecologic concern. Shelton (1981) reported that extension wildlife programs in Mississippi attempted to disseminate wildlife management information by appealing to _ or more values concurrently. Management for mourning doves (Zenaidura macroura) was linked to social aspects of hunting and cookery programs,thus attracting both male and female participants. Appealing to multi-value systems when selling Page 29/30?--- wildlife management may be an effective strategy. Congruence with a previously introduced or adopted idea can also be a component of compatibility as a basis for adopting an innovation. Brandner and Kearl (1964) found that in areas where hybrid corn had already been introduced, hybrid sorghum was adopted quickly, more so than in areas where hybrid corn had not been introduced, and even faster than in an area where sorghum was economically important. In forest management, leaving riparian corridors between unharvested stands for the purpose of facilitating unimpeded movement of certain species of wildlife may be seen as congruent with Best Management Practices that encourage similar treatments, but which are primarily intended to JU rnsure water quality of a stream. Complexr:t.'i Whether or not an innovation is complex depends on the adopter's competencies. Hence, complexity must be viewed relative to the pre-existing competency rather than as an absolute property of an innovation. Innovations that are difficult to understand and use receive more reluctant consideration than simpler ones (Bandura 1986:150). Wildlife management is complex. Complexity of an innovation, as perceiveby members of a social system, is negatively related to its rate of adoption (Rogers 1983:226) 30 Kivlin (196(2) found that the complexity of farm innovations was more highly negatively related to their rate of adoption than any other characteristic of the innovations except relative advantage. Nowak (1987) made the point that while financial incentives may be effectively used to reduce risk of using a new technology when that practice is fairly simple, with more complex practices, the most effective way of reducing risk is through generating and distributing knowledge.It could be argued convincingly that management for certain species of wildlife on private lands is also complex and can involve potential loss of income from timber revenues and/or real estate wetlands) values. A public policy that enjoins public financial assist .irrce with an effective knowledge dissemination program rbe more effective in achieving public and private wildlife management goals than either approach re+fr
Trialability is the degree to which an innovation may be experimented with on a limited basis. Relatively earlier adopters perceive trialability as more important than do later adopters. Laggards move from initial trial to full scale use more rapidly than do innovators and early adopters. The more innovative individuals have no precedent to follow when they adopt while the later adopters are
surrounded by peers who have already adopted the innovation (Rogers 1983:231).
These peers may act as psychological or vicarious trials for the later adopters and, hence, the actual trial of a new ideas is of low significance for them. A common misapplication of adult learning theory, relative to trialability, occurs when agencies establish demonstration wildlife and forest management areas for transfer to private landowners.
Agencies do not have the same credibility as do private landowners. However sincere, the agency simply does not make decisions in the same context as an individual farmer, rancher, or forest owner (Ramsey and Shult 1981).
Observability is the degree to which the results of an innovation are observable to others. Typically, it is positively related to rate of adoption. The use of transects and small, simple experiments carried out by the landowner with consultation by the biologist or forester may be more effective in facilitating observability than showing the owner results of scientific studies that are difficult to read. In general, the more an innovation satisfies the above mentioned attributes, the more likely the innovation was relevant to an adopter's needs.
A corollary is that if the
proposed innovation matches the attributes discussed, there will be less extension effort needed to diffuse it (Busch and Lacy 1983).However, on the part of change agents and researchers alike,there has often been a strong implication that an innovation should be diffused and adopted by all member-s of a social system, that it should be diffused rapidly, and that the innovation should neither be reinvented nor- rejected (Rogers 1983:215).
This has seldom been stated, but often assumed or implied, and frequently leads to an individual blame bias--a tendency for- change agents and researchers that promote innovations to blame the potential adopter- if the innovation is not adopted, i.e.,"if the shoe doesn't fit, there must be something wrong with your foot."
Later- adopters and laggards are most often blamed for- not adopting an innovation or- being much later- in adopting than the traditional,other- mr of adopter-sr Erunge uneducated and/or- resistant their system.
become a self-fulfilling prophecyto change. May
Change agents do not contact the later- adopters in their- system because they feel, apparently on the basis of their- stereotypic image, that such contact will not lead to adoption.
Without information and other-assistance from the change agents, the later- adopters are even less likely to adopt. Thus, the rr-;rrrr of the later- adopter-s fulfills itself.
Social Structure and Communications
Much diffusion-of-innovations research has examined individual characteristics of adopters and rate of adoption. Some have studied how the attributes of the innovations themselves influenced adoption. However, little attention has been given to the social structure in which the individual and the innovation exist and to the communication channels within that structure (Goss 1979) until recently. This is partially due to the difficulty of analyzing data that rely on recollection and perception of the people who serve as experimental units (Bandura 1986: 153) .However, empirical findings are available throughout the literature of social psychology, and a brief review of the role of communications in adoption-diffusion process follows.
Mass Media Fessler (1958) characterized five stages in the innovation process:
With the overwhelming influence of electronic and print media our lives, mass media have become important marketing and information tools. Some natural resource agencies have been quick to recognize and capitalize on this trend. Virginia Wildlife, a monthly
publication of the VDGIF, was recently named the top state produced conservation magazine in the country. The agency's Virginia Wildlife television program also received high honors. Most all natural resource agencies have an abundance and variety of print media espousing programs and giving explanations of forest and wildlife management innovations. However, in terms of the innovation-decision process, mass media channels are relatively important only at the awareness and interest stages, and then mainly for earlier adopters, as compared to the effect on later adopters (Rogers 1983:185). Thus, print and electronic media, while important, are limited in their ability to affect change (Blanchard and Monroe 1990).
McEvoy (1985)observed that public service and educational programs couched in media presentations have been unsuccessful in assisting the landowner through the important evaluation stage and, thus, have been ineffective in convincing a majority of private forestland owners to consider forest management. There is another problem often associated with mass media marketing efforts. People are often led to believe in concepts or practices in otherwise personally devalued ways by being exposed to strategies that circumvent negative self-reactions (Bandura 1986:150). appearances and meanings throug h and portraya1. Examples relevant to forestry might be TVadvertisements by Westvaco, WeyerhaUSerrr others depicting vast acreages of reforested plantations as being environmentally correct and laudable.
The negative casting of forest fire has been fostered by the familiar "Smokey The Bear" symbol and the entrenched "Prevent Forest Fires" logo, though the role of fire in some forest ecosystems is now deemed by many ecologists to be important and necessary for long term maintenance of such systems. Examples abound outside of the context of natural resources. These include the recent attachment of the "quota" stigma to the1991 Civil Rights Bill before Congress and the campaign to get women to smoke by exploiting the women's movemen t (i. e. ,"You've come a long way baby.").
InterPersonal Communications Individuals are dependent upon other individuals for information to establish the validity of their attitudes,values, and experiences (Giles 1978:233; Doolittle and Straka 1r.
Marketeers have long recognized interpersonal communications as an important medium for idea exchange in contemporary American society (King and Summers 1971:21) .???
Dating back to the193121's, professional rumor-mongers reportedly organized word-of-mouth campaigns to promote clients' products or criticize competitor brands Jacobsen36
extention11 and 15 start here………… f1948) .
However, Rogers (1983:273) asserted that the degree and quality of information exchange between individuals depends largely upon the degree of homophily or heterophily between those individuals. Homophily is the degree to which pairs of individuals who interact are similar in certain attributes such as beliefs, education, and social status. Heterophily is the degree to which pairs of individuals who interact are different in certain attributes. One of the most distinctive problems in the communication of innovations is that the participants are usually quite heterophilous. More effective communication occurs when two individuals are homophilous.
However, opinion leaders who are sought out for information about innovations are usually somewhat more innovative in adopting new ideas than their peers; yet the opinion leaders are seldom innovators, seldom the very first to adopt. This suggests that there is an optimal degree of heterophily in interpersonal networks for effective diffusion to occur (Rogers 1983:275). Within the context of the homophily-heterophily dichotomy, the importance of empathy cannot be overstated.
Empathy has been defined as the ability of an individual to project him or herself int the role of another; heterophilous individuals who have considerable empathy skills can, in a socio-psychological sense, be homophilous when interacting with and diffusing innovation to people with different socio-economic and socia-psychological attributes than themselves. Muth and Hendee (1980) asserted that opinion leaders generally spread information laterally to peers rather than downward to subordinate later adopters and laggards.
If this phenomenon is true, opinion leaders, in genera 1 , can be assumed not to possess sufficient empathy skills to facilitate a downward transfer of innovation during an interpersonal interaction with a later adopter or laggard. Thus, the potential for vertical diffusion is limited.
Perhaps a key element in any successful information and program is to ensure that adequate training ofeducation professional agents and/or identified opinion leaders in the skills of empat_.
Successful change agents will need to realize and be equipped to employ one approach to reach early adopters and another approach to reach the later adopters and laggards.
Agents must understand personal characteristics of each adopter category and be capable of role playing. Rogers (1983:177) _e5_rf_ed general.___i@_ That _RrQe ..ad. b&,__ u,_ sociological research of interpersonal diffusion networks. When such networks are heterophilous, followers seek opinion leaders of higher socioeconomic status;
Bandura (1986:179), in recognizing the importance of homophily-heterophily in interpersonal diffusion, concludedthat influences rooted in indigenous sources generally have greater. sustaining power rmore likely networks of influence than those applied be connected by outsiders.to community for transmitting knowledge and cultivating beneficial patterns of behavior.
The emerging discipline of Organizati_ -?development has been a persuasive proponent of _;remise, maintaining that diffusion between industrialized and developing effective countries is served best not by experts from the industrialized nation going to the developing nation to facilitate technology transfer in a culture he/she may not understand.
Rather, more lasting change will occur if members of the society of the developing nation come to the developed nation, learn the technology, and then diffuse it back home in a fashion culturally acceptable. The Bureau of Indian Affairs has recognized the validity of this phenomenon for years and has attempted to give preference to Native Americans over other ethnicities in filling positions in natural resource management, medicine, social work, and elementary and secondary education.
The subtle lampooning
39 of government officials from when they eastern U.S.the visit the western U.S. (i.e.,"I'm from Washington and I'm here to help" is yet another example relevant to Bandura's observation.. Granovetter (1983) looked at interpersonal diffusion pathways in the context of weak and strong social ties. observed that innovations may be diffused most extensively through weak social ties.
The reason for this paradoxical effect, he suggested,is that people who have strong ties to each other tend to have much the same views, know the same things and interact mainly with each other. In contrast, those weak ties more diverse travel in with are apt to social circles where they can learn different things.is more likely to learn about new ideas/practices from briefcontacts with numerous acquaintances than frequent contact in the same circle of close friends. To the extent that linkages between cohesive groups rely on weak ties, they serve to broaden and extend diffusion paths. While weak ties may aperson's access increase diversity, the social influences operating within closely knit networks often determine what gets adopted from that diversity. Thus, structural interconnectedness provides for potential diffusion paths, but psycho-social factors likely to determine the fate of what diffuses through those paths. It is the transactions that occur within the social I'm He One to are
40 relationships, rather than the ties themselves that explain adoptive behavior.
Groups, Communication, and Diffusion
Never doubt that a committed citizens its the only thing small group of can change the that ever has.
Margaret Mead thoughtful, world. Indeed, (Mills 1991) Research has shown that education directed toward behavior change is most effective in small groups (i.e., 8 to 15 people) (Geller 1989). A resource group carries out at least t_functions:
Giles1978:234; MacNamara 1985; Rogers 1983:406). Such groups can also give adopters greater economic,politicaland socialstrength and provide an avenue for a change agent to modify interpersonal communications within the system (Rogers 1983:406).
The use of small groups as an adoption-diffusion tool may have originated in France where the word "salon" was coined to mean "a thought-traders' rendezvous." Indeed, small groups, or study circles have proven so valuable a method for involving the public in discussion of a wide variety of issues and problems, including matters of public policy, that the governments of both Sweden andDenmark
41 subsidize them (Mills 1991).
Requirements for state assistance are simple: a minimum of 5 adults willing to met for at least 20 45-minute sessions using a basic format designed to promote learning. These small study circles have become so widespread that almost a third of all Swedish adults participate (Mills 1991). Sabido (1981:147) reported on an ingenious application of social learning in Mexico that combined the utility of groups for diffusion/support with television modeling.
In an effort to reduce widespread illiteracy, the government launched a national self-instruction program. People with reading skills were urged to organize self-instruction groups in which they would teach others how to read. Instructional material had been developed for this purpose.
However, these national appeals provided a disappointing social response. Sabido then selected a television soap opera which had a large, loyal following, as the best format for reaching And motivating people with problems of illiteracy.
The main story line in the dramatic series centered on the interesting and informative experiences of a self-instruction group. Assessment after the first year ofthe soap-opera diffusion project showed a dramatic __increase in _ _:;___ac_ li teracy self-instruction groups.
The linkage between small resource management groups and wildlife management has not gone unrecognized. Schoenfeld (1981) suggested that acooperative adult education mechanism linking federal and State instrumentalities with small county groups might provide the best single model for helping to achieve wildlife management on private lands.
In the midwest, local groups of landowners have been formed to market recreational opportunities and to supplement landowner income from improved wildlife habitat and populations, particularly pheasants (Phasianus colchicus).
The CES has also become aware of the value of small groups in diffusing conservation techniques. In Montana andKansas, extension specialists _ organized term_d conservation tillage committees, small ...wh.3.t \IIre!"I"'e groups of resource professionals and farmers. These committees have undertaken diffusion efforts mainly by field demonstrations, discussion groups, sem_nars
and videos, all OrganiZe_ _ The commi ttees share II. G:6ammorr common cause, being informal,
a county by farmers. A having members with diverse interests, being flexible, being independent, and having strong leadership (Bauder and Hickman 1988).
Charter andCharter (1985), ranchers in Montana, reviewed the history and process of a small management club to which they belonged. The group was comprised of 6 area families, 4 of whom were ranchers, 1 A/SCS conservationist
43 and 1 a town couple. At the first meeting,the weak link of each operation was discussed. Group discussion tended to stimulate people to act to change the status quo rather than just sustain it. Meetings often addressed specific concerns of planning and management. Each meeting was chaired by a different person who was responsible for keeping things moving and c_rt rambling. Each meeting wascritiqued at the en .. meeting. anching-oriented
stock and even financing were not considered for the next management club, grass, dominant themes at the early meetings, but rather discussions centered around people, relationships, and history.
An important goal of the club has been for each of the participants to develop into constructivecritics for each other. TheCharters commented that frankness had not been easy to achieve, since everyone initially was usually trying to present the status quo in too good a light. The group came to a realization that it takes time to develop a trust relationship where real communication can take place. An ultimate goal for the group is to become a problem-solving team better than anyone alone could achieve.
As a spinoff of the first Ruffed Grouse Society funded Coverts Project in Vermont, one of the most successful applications involved Coverts volunteers working within a small, cooperative, informal association. Thirty neighbors
44 in a valley agreed to adhere to a collective management plan that featured habitat improvement for a variety of game andnon-game species. '_e plan was organized around a single -_ _._ volunteer's tract °A_50 acre_ That volunteer and his neighbors have implemented management, principally for w-=,:d_ _ e; but als_) for timber where the potential exists, on more than 1200 a_ of forests and fields. A significant aspect the effort was that habitat improvement, not potential income from timber sales, was the primary motivating force that bound these individual NIPF owners together (McEvoy et al.1988) . ….extenstiom 15 starts here………. The promotion of complex forest and wildlife management techniques to NIPF owners may necessitate reliance upon strong interpersonal pathways of diffusion from landowner to landowner to overcome the difficult persuasion stagrf adoption process. To this end, rselectir opinion t( 1 ead ing NI PF owners f.rr :f:..F.e:i11l11g- in advanced forest and wildlife management strategies, as well as diffusion strategies, may hold great promise for increasing the widespread rate of adoption of certain desirable practices. The process of soliciting names of opinion-leading NIPF owners through local county agents and foresters was validated bYrfinding.r significantly greaterr::nd diffusion activitYrArCrnr;inated rr3urunrefefooperators. r-en ced It was unclear as to whether local agents and foresters were adept at nominating individuals wi th hig h in terpersona1 and communi ca tion skill s. .I::InIAIGi"'6'r-, the selection process can be strengthened in the future by conveying to local agents and foresters the desirability of selecting people with these talents. A predictive leadership model based on communications and sociological research summariked by Rogers was construc ted with ritr-.:H=r weightings and field tested using the data of this study. The model was not found to 129 predict adOPtiOnrr diffusion activity, nor was a multipl regression model created from the data able to explain more than 20% of the variance. The interaction of the complexity of the innovations being diffused through the program And the difficult crises) that monitoring adoption setting (i.e., weather, personal many Cooperators experienced during a 6-month program likely contributed to the poor performance of both models. Opinion-leading 8t,r<=I"'r rooperators than 8;rm from their NIPF tended time in diffusion efforts than that lived less IPF owners, but did not engage significantly more of their NIPF-owning peers surface as a distinguishing factor of roperator diffusion the former case, I concluded from the data more activity. In that more "resident"/operators did not spend significantly more time organizing or conducting demonstration field days or making presentations to groups, but rather, spent more time one-on-one with the peers They did attempt outreach activities rithr 'however this did not manifest itself in more neighbors and friends actually adopting a practice. Again, the short monitoring period may haVerr"r r pi ck ing up d i f feren tia 1 adoption behavior of )r2rr 1 and resources professi change agents recruiting owners. Local natural interested agent volunteers for dissemination efforts should choose candidates who live on or near their NIPF acreage. Neither size of NIPF acreage owned, nor number of leadership positions held in local civic or government organizations distinguished rvr1 bs cooperators on the basis of adoption or diffusion activity. gave to a question on However, the response their screening application as to why they wanted to participate in the Virginia Coverts project differentiatein diffusion activity. Those volunteerns who stated their reason for wanting to participate was to share what they learned were more active on one-on-one outreach and in total hours spent in the process of disseminating information. local Thus,one way Resources identify poten quasi-extension agents, who have /l is to simply explain what is needed and natural change agents can tially effective volunteer met other criteria, ask the potential volunteer if he/she would be willing to be a force for betterrgement.' cr ---" - . Not surprisingly, cooperators who had gained extensive knowledge of forestry and wildlife management from past contact with natural resources professionals, from past training in workshops, and from extensive prior use of extension prrrl re active in L- and diffusr r than thrr corts. Local change agents should read Y know who these self-directed people 131 are and take advantage of their knowledge if at all possible. rculdrly wlth wnh peoplE'-, hose regard to the art of communicarlng with high interpersonal and communication skills could be expected to more easily approach people, get their points across, and help peers through the difficult decision process involved in adopting a forestry or wildlife management practice. This study supported that contention. Local natural resources change agents should seek out volunteers who come across as empathetic and congruent. Change agents may indeed need training and focus in recognizing these skills in others. Teaming up with volunteer individuals who possess high skill levels can be expected to move a local forestry and wildlife management extension program ahead considerably. The Virginia Coverts Project was an attempt to train and motivate opinion-leading NIPF owners to adopt advance forest and wildlife management strategies on their own and persuade their peer NIPF owners to become better forest managers by using science-based ecologic and economic con As have to date enrolled 5,290 hectares 422 ownerships into the VrForest Stewardship Program and have been instrumental in persuading cepts. tered 27 other NIPF-owning peers to also begin certification. One hundred and thirty additional landowners have been persuaded 132 to adopt other forest management strategies not specifically included l.n the forest stewardship program. Presentations were made byrooperators to 21 groups comprising 225 people, and 22 demonstration-field days were held byroperators on their lands, which attracted another 246 interested people. Nine popular press articles or letters to the editor were written by roperators and lrperator appeared on a TV spot. In all, 480 hours of time have been contributed by roperators l.n their communities towards improving the dissemination of forest and wildlife management innovation. Further, coperators themselves have adopted )or plan to adopt before year's end 463 practices learned at Coverts 7 workshops. Management clubs may have tremendous potential as structures through which opinion-leading NIPF owners can exchange ideas, lend encouragement and support, and collaboratively Share the time and energy costs of conducting demonstration-field days. However, from the observations of this study, it appeared critical to have a NIPF owner with enthusiasm and high interpersonal and communication skills to take the lead in starting and maintaining such a club. Participation and guidance by the local natural resources professional would likely improve the probability of keeping the club active and effective in diffusion activities locally. 133 Tr-aining sophisticated landowner-s such as those at tr-acted to Cover-ts type program demands that the training component be of exemplar-y quality. The ver-y best demonstr-ation ar-eas should be visited, the ver-y best instr-uctor-s used, and the ver-y best r-efer-ence mater-ials available should be pr-ovided to Cooper-ator-s. Emphasis should be heavily weighted upon pr-oviding a good model of how a demonstr-ation field-day should be conducted (Cr-oss, per-so comm. ) and how adopted innovations can best be pr-esented in the context of the NIPF owner-. Bus tour-s to high quality educational sites, such as Vir-ginia Tech For-estr-y Extension cur-r-ently conducts, is an innovative educational concept. Pr-ofessional natur-al r-esour-ce agents and innovative host-Iandowner-s can inter-act with Cooper-ator-s,cr-eating a r-elaxed atmospher-e for technology tr-ansfer-. This str-ategy, combined with a follow-up 2-days of intensive tr-aining on diffusion outr-each, may cr-eate an ideal educational package for- pr-epar-ing an opinion-leading NIPF owner- for- futur-e adoption and diffusion activity in pr-omoting science-based for-estr-y and wildlife management in his community. From an economic perspective, McEvoy (1988) claimed that the dissemination efforts of the first class of Vermont cooperators far- exceeded what one natural resources extension advisor- could have accomplished in one year-, and thus, r"..r wr;rma cg"- n: 11 y cea ctr Ead y cesu Its from the Vir- page 135 - complete ginia Coverts project do not affirm this finding; however, the relatively short monitoring period of Virginia Cooperators to date may have had the effect of obscuring the true potential of the program in Virginia.With continued financial support from The Ruffed Grouse Society and other foundations interested in increasing forest management of Virginia's NIPF land resource,most of the costs to the state associated with conducting this type of program are largely fixed. Given that it is unlikely that regional wildlife and forestry extension advisors will be funded in the foresee able future, and given that the VDF foresters may not have the skill or the attitude to move away, from the traditional timber production paradigm and towards working with the apparent naturalistic attitudes of the typical NIPF owner, training and then utilizing opinion-leading NIPF owners as messengers of integrated forest and wildlife management strategies may be the best possible means of meeting this important, unmet need.