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Capacity Development in Nature Conservation: New approaches to strengthen individual professionals

Loffeld, Thirza (2021) Capacity Development in Nature Conservation: New approaches to strengthen individual professionals. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.93002) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:93002)

Language: English

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Nature conservation is a challenging profession. Professionals may face many obstacles before reaching their goals. Conservation work has been described as cognitively challenging, emotionally demanding, and physically straining and, at times, open to dangerous encounters caused by wildlife and people. Furthermore, the field of conservation is ever-changing, both by advances in its or associated disciplines and by rapid changes at a global political, social, and ecological level. Therefore, this doctoral research had as central research question: which role can capacity development have in optimising the work performance of conservation professionals? This study's results, arising from a mixed methods investigation, show that job resources, especially those provided by the organisation, are crucial for professional development and resilience building processes, and for optimising work performance. By thematically analysing the data of 22 interviews and 2 focus groups, organisational resources that were found to be linked to positive psychological states (e.g. experiences of energy, work engagement) were recognition and appreciation, and opportunities for growth and development. Results concerning work resources that were associated with positive psychological states were related to autonomy (i.e. freedom in work) and task significance (i.e. meaningful work). The strengths of these relationships were tested on a dataset obtained through 561 questionnaire respondents and by means of structural equation modelling. Quantitative data results confirmed the central role of job resources in reducing stress and burnout and increasing work engagement, which, in turn, positively influenced work performance. Overall, the results have highlighted the importance of considering both job demands and job resources when optimising work design and work environment for conservationists to maintain energy and perform their jobs well. Furthermore, individual processes of professional learning and resilience building can enhance thriving in the workplace in uncertain and rapidly changing environments.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Humle, Tatyana
Thesis advisor: Black, Simon
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.93002
Additional information: Vice Chancellor Scholarship awarded by the University of Kent, and scholarships by the Hendrik Muller Fund, the Netherlands, and the Headley Pitt Charitable Trust, UK.
Uncontrolled keywords: capacity development, work performance, conservation professionals, motivation, work engagement, burnout, professional development, resilience.
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH75 Conservation (Biology)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > DICE (Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology)
Funders: University of Kent (
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 01 Feb 2022 17:10 UTC
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2022 10:01 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Loffeld, Thirza.

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