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International Journal of Forestry Research
Volume 2009, Article ID 451362, 13 pages
Research Article

Exploring Partnerships between Local Communities and Timber Companies: An Experiment Using the Role-Playing Games Approach

1Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and Department of Forest Management, Bogor Agricultural University, Bogor 16680, Indonesia
2Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD) and Center for International Forestry Research, Bogor 16000, Indonesia
3Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801, USA

Received 1 October 2008; Revised 19 December 2008; Accepted 19 January 2009

Academic Editor: Guofan Shao

Copyright © 2009 Herry Purnomo et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Cooperation among stakeholders is widely accepted as an effective management strategy. This paper describes an experimental study that explores this cooperation using role-playing games, which is formulated within a multiagent simulation framework. This framework enables participants to take active roles in mimicking the collaborative decision environment and the behaviors and attitudes of the different stakeholders. The paper examines a forest plantation company in South Sumatra, Indonesia, which has cooperated with local communities since 2000. The experimental pilot study described in this paper explored the role of communication in partnership relationships between the company and the local communities living within and around the surroundings of the company's plantation. These partnerships were explored and analyzed using the gaming approach involving university students taking the role of forest stakeholders, from both the timber company and the local communities. Lessons learned from the game provided the rationale for the establishment of a communication institution called “Forum Sebahu Sejalan.” This formal forum was constituted after a facilitated ex-postinteraction between representatives from the timber company and local communities. Results and observations drawn from the interactions show the potentials of the RPG approach and the formal forum in crafting resilient partnerships among stakeholders.