Science for Success—A Conflict of Interest? Researcher Position and Reflexivity in Socio-Ecological Research for CBNRM in Namibia

Koot, Stasja; Hebinck, Paul; Sullivan, Sian


This paper emphasizes the importance of researcher position and reflexivity for professionals in the ecological and development sciences. We draw on critical discourse analysis (CDA) to analyze a selection of scientific papers written by Namibian Community-based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) professionals and their relationships with public discourse regarding this conservation and development program. These papers mainly show “success” whilst disregarding “failure” of elements in the program that elsewhere are highly criticized (especially trophy hunting and ecotourism). In addition, they seem to disregard questions concerning researchers’ conflicts of interest that bear on the papers’ “objectivity.” We argue that such positions beg more transparency and epistemological accountability. In particular, we propose greater disclosure and reflexivity regarding researcher positioning as an important methodological response for illuminating when and how researchers have an interest in specific outcomes of their research, so as to enhance interpretation of the knowledge produced by such research.