First Advisor

Max Nielsen-Pincus

Term of Graduation

Spring 2023

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Environmental Science and Management


Environmental Science and Management




cross-boundary collaboration, social networks, wildfire management



Physical Description

1 online resource (vii, 139 pages)


Wildfire is a cross-boundary, collective action issue. Previous research has demonstrated the importance of collaborative relationships in wildfire for purposes such as increasing capacity, trading information, and facilitating landscape-scale mitigation projects. However, a stakeholder's location in social networks, as well as personal factors, may impact their collaboration. Furthermore, stakeholders must prioritize their own organizational goals and responsibilities, which may differ from those of their collaborators. I used interview and survey methods to investigate these questions in the context of wildfire management professionals in northwestern Wyoming. For the interviews, I selected 12 individuals with high betweenness centrality who were involved in wildfire management in different organizations and locations throughout the study area. I used semi-structured interviews and asked participants to describe how they use collaboration to accomplish both collective and organizational goals for wildfire management. I found that managers' answers to this question could be divided into four themes: (1) Deciding when collaboration is and isn't the right tool, (2) Utilizing jurisdictional and organizational differences, (3) Finding or designing multi-benefit projects, and (4) Choosing collaborators and building relationships. For the survey, I used chain referral sampling and asked about managers' participation in 8 collaborative actions, as well as their scope and focus of work, their gender, their role in wildfire management, who they worked with most frequently. I then modeled managers' participation in the collaborative actions using betweenness centrality, gender, focus, scale, and role as predictors. I found that higher betweenness centrality, a focus on wildfire, and working at the scale of multiple communities or jurisdictions all increased collaboration. Holding the self-identified roles of coordinating across jurisdictions or interests, engaging with landowners, providing leadership or authority, and responding to emergencies also increased collaboration. When all of the variables were combined in a single model, I found that working at the multiple community or jurisdiction scale and holding engaging, coordinating, or responding roles had the most significant impact on collaborative action in a combined model. I found that managers who identified as women had lower collaborative scores, possibly as a result of gender bias in the natural resource and wildfire fields. I also found that men were much more likely to nominate other men in the chain referral portion of the survey, suggesting that gender bias may influence research using this method.


© 2023 Hannah Lynn Spencer

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