The absence of a prominent quality or condition may mean the collaborative initiative will not realize its’ full potential. Perhaps most alarmingly, the absence of the key ingredients for success can “… have strongly negative implications for the sustainability and resilience of the social–ecological system” (Armitage et al., 2009, p. 100).
Social capital has perhaps garnered the most attention in this regard. Social capital encompasses “networks together with shared norms, values and understanding that facilitate cooperation within or among groups” (OECD, 2001, p. 41). Dale and Newman (2008, p. 18) offer a cautionary observation: “As community approaches to sustainable development initiatives grow in popularity, it can be observed that many such initiatives begin with high hopes and large commitments of social capital only to slowly fall apart in the face of individual long-term stress, a lack of access to external resources, and sometimes conflicting government policies and incentives that actually hinder or destroy the existing social capital at the community level”.
Finally, it is imperative to be aware of feedback from present participation to future involvement. Ansell and Gash (2007, p. 557) observe the cycle or iteration through collaborative stage “… can positively or negatively influence further collaboration.” Our next lesson explores this process of collaboration in detail.