Creating custodians of heritage : a multiple case study perspective of United Kingdom World Heritage sites
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Research within cultural heritage and World Heritage Site management demonstrates the importance of conservation and effective managerial approaches for the protection of historical assets. However, World Heritage Sites are often characterised by multiple ownership patterns and diverse stakeholder interests, rendering collective and amicable management challenging. Therefore, through combining stewardship and stakeholder theories this research aims to develop a ‘custodianship behaviour model’ for the management of World Heritage Sites. This model focuses on developing custodianship behaviours among representatives within WHS management approaches and wider stakeholders. To accomplish this, the methodology of this thesis is grounded in a multiple case study approach focusing on three World Heritage Sites: Edinburgh’s Old and New Towns, Derwent Valley Mills, and the Antonine Wall. Data collection techniques include semi-structured interviews, documentary analysis, and physical artefacts. The collected evidence was analysed through template analysis. This study found that environments which endorse collaboration, involvement, open communication, trust and participatory decision-making are starting points in developing custodianship behaviours among managers. The findings also indicate that through engagement strategies, particularly ones which embrace participatory and continual engagement, managers were able to foster custodianship behaviours among external stakeholders. Despite custodianship behaviours being apparent, there are challenges which act as impediments and include: irregular interactions between managers, working groups not functioning, conflicting agendas and controversial decision-making. This research also stresses the importance of two emerging themes which can constrain or support custodianship – resources and time. Fostering custodianship is also dependent on a dedicated team that are devoted to WHS management and are able to develop and maintain stakeholder relationships. Underlining the theoretical and contextual contribution, this study ends with the presentation of a custodianship behaviour model (see Figure 21). WHS managers can use this model to develop favourable behaviours among site managers and stakeholders. To conclude, this research suggests proposes a number of recommendations for managerial practise, as well as reflection on the study’s limitations and areas of future research.