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Exploratory Research on Changing Times Affecting Human Resource Management, Perceptions, and Professional Norms of Tennessee Park Rangers

April Varn Welch, Pat Stephens Williams, Ray Darville, Philip Smartt, Matthew McBroom


As parks' fiscal resources dwindle, park management and frontline personnel are asked to do more with less. Park ranger efficiency and effectiveness must increase, and strategies to reduce resource impacts and overcome obstacles preventing successful resource preservation must be found. This study focused on the human resources of Tennessee State Parks: those personnel charged with preserving natural and cultural resources in the parks. In order to identify key trends that may help address personnel adaptations needed, this exploratory study gathered data on currently held beliefs and enacted behaviors, and issues in human resource management. An investigation into the cognitions, knowledge, perceptions, and professional norms affecting management strategies employed by the Division of Tennessee State Parks' rangers and managers was conducted using a voluntary, self-administered survey. Results indicate employee recruitment and selection, their compensation strategies and practices, and the successful fulfillment of the Division's mission is directly influenced by understaffing, time constraints, and politics. In addition, human resource diversity is lacking, resulting in professional acculturation and a reduction in optimum efficiency and effectiveness. Findings depict inconsistencies within management strategy use, and a need for professional development for the Division's human resources.


Cognitive psychology; interpretation; natural resource management; occupational psychology; park ranger; perceptions; professional culture; state parks; values

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