Place meanings and desired management outcomes

Jordan W. Smith, Mae A. Davenport, Dorothy H. Anderson, Jessica E. Leahy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Federal land management agencies and social scientists have been attempting to understand place meanings and the perceptions of resource users for decades. In this research, we suggest that understanding the relationships between the meanings individuals ascribe to managed landscapes and those individuals' preferences for management outcomes have become increasingly important. The processes of devolution and globalization have simultaneously increased the need for locally informed collaborative management and increased the importance of local 'place'. Following the cognitive perspective on place, we examine how individuals' place meanings affect their desired management outcomes. Data come from a questionnaire administered to residents living near three U.S. Army Corps of Engineers managed projects within Illinois' Kaskaskia River Watershed. Confirmatory factor analysis is employed to validate a seven-dimensional scale of place meanings and a six-dimensional scale of desired management outcomes. Subsequent structural equation modeling revealed that desired management outcomes were significantly influenced by place meanings (12 significant relationships found). Most notably, the analysis revealed that believing the managed resource area contributed to the local community's identity significantly and positively influenced all of the possible management outcomes. The connection between resource management and community identity matters. Other findings reveal individuals attached a variety of meanings to the resource, and that these meanings can affect desired management preferences in distinct and potentially conflicting ways. In sum, our findings begin to unravel some of the complexities between the various meanings attached to managed landscapes and their affect on desired management outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)359-370
Number of pages12
JournalLandscape and Urban Planning
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 30 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which was facilitated by the Great Lakes – Northern Forests CESU . The authors would also like to thank Dr. Ronald Wimberley for his notes and comments.


  • Community benefits
  • Desired management outcomes
  • Place meanings


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