James Cook University
Research Field: Environmental Social Science
Dr Gurney’s research interests lie broadly in understanding the factors that influence opportunities for collaborative management of common-pool natural resources (CPRs), and the multiple outcomes of such initiatives. She has taken an interdisciplinary approach to this, drawing on theories and methods from multiple disciplines including psychology, behavioural economics, and geography. Most of this research is undertaken in the context of coral reef resource management in Australia, Indonesia and Fiji.
Her current research program has two themes. The first, opportunities for collaborative CPR management, is concerned with understanding why people engage in collective action to manage coral reefs and other CPRs, and how such cooperative activities are affected by the social-ecological context. Recent research in this theme includes examining how multiscale institutional factors affect people’s participation in community-based management and how socioeconomic and cultural heterogeneity influences the likelihood of collaborative management.
The second research theme relates to outcomes of CPR management, a core focus of which is evaluating how management affects human wellbeing. Recent research has evaluated the impacts of coral reef management on multidimensional poverty, including the social equality of those impacts, and identifying the institutional conditions that facilitate positive social outcomes.