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Towards the Formation of a Sustainable South Florida

An Analysis of Conflict Resolution and Consensus Building in the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Initiative

by Arthur Oyola-Yemaiel

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Institution: Florida International University
Advisor(s): Stephen Fjellman, Walter G. Peacock, Terrence Rice, William Vickers, Dennis Wiedman
Degree: Ph.D., Sociology
Year: 1999
Volume: 165 pages
ISBN-10: 1581120990
ISBN-13: 9781581120998


This dissertation examines the sociological process of conflict resolution and consensus building in South Florida Everglades Ecosystem Restoration through what I define as a Network Management Coordinative Interstitial Group (NetMIG). The process of conflict resolution can be summarized as the participation of interested and affected parties (stakeholders) in a forum of negotiation. I study the case of the Governor's Commission for a Sustainable South Florida (GCSSF) that was established to reduce social conflict. Such conflict originated from environmental disputes about the Everglades and was manifested in the form of gridlock among regulatory (government) agencies, Indian tribes, as well as agricultural, environmental conservationist and urban development interests. The purpose of the participatory forum is to reduce conflicts of interest and to achieve consensus, with the ultimate goal of restoration of the original Everglades ecosystem, while cultivating the economic and cultural bases of the communities in the area. Further, the forum aims to formulate consensus through envisioning a common sustainable community by providing means to achieve a balance between human and natural systems.

Data were gathered using participant observation and document analysis techniques to conduct a theoretically based analysis of the role of the Network Management Coordinative Interstitial Group (NetMIG). I use conflict resolution theory, environmental conflict theory, stakeholder analysis, systems theory, differentiation and social change theory, and strategic management and planning theory.

The purpose of this study is to substantiate the role of the Governor's Commission for a Sustainable South Florida (GCSSF) as a consortium of organizations in an effort to resolve conflict rather than an ethnographic study of this organization. Environmental restoration of the Everglades is a vehicle for recognizing the significance of a Network Management Coordinative Interstitial Group (NetMIG), namely the Governor's Commission for a Sustainable South Florida (GCSSF), as a structural mechanism for stakeholder participation in the process of social conflict resolution through the creation of new cultural paradigms for a sustainable community.