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Oryx Journal paper: What makes conservationists persevere? Resilience strategies at work

Created: 2022-07-28
Author: Thirza A.C. Loffeld, Simon A. Black, Marianne Carter, Eleanor Sterling and Tatyana Humle Language: English
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Fig. 4 Resilience strategies identified from interviews with 22 conservationists conducted for this study (Table 2).


Conservation professionals face cognitively and emotionally demanding tasks and a wide range of working conditions, including high levels of uncertainty (e.g. the socio-political contexts in which they must function, possible long hours and isolation from friends and family).

Resilience (i.e. positive adaptation to professional challenges) can help individuals thrive in their roles. We interviewed 22 conservationists with professional experience working in low-income countries with high biodiversity and explored what helped and what hindered them in their work.

We used thematic analysis to identify factors related to positive and negative psychological states and strategies to promote resilience at work. The results revealed factors that were associated with positive psychological states, including achievements and recognition for work.

Organizational policies and administration, especially perceived unfairness regarding salaries, recruitment policies and promotion, were associated with negative psychological states, as were other factors related to the job context.

Respondents shared their professional resilience strategies such as aligning work with one’s values, and personal reflection and goal setting. We recommend that organizations support their employees in the process of building resilience by addressing basic needs and motivational factors.

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