Leadership in a depressed primary industry : a social description of the fishermen of Lake Winnipeg

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Forcese, Dennis,
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Exploratory research in areas faced with impending socio-technological change is often of considerable value. Frequently it anticipates problems and the means whereby they may be met. More generally it provides guidelines for the gradual and non-injurious introduction of change. This thesis is the product of one hundred and thirteen interviews with fishermen. It describes the fishermen of Lake Winnipeg who reside in the area of Manitoba from Gimli to Hecla Island. Fundamental sociological variables, such as ethnic origins, age, marital status, education, and income, provide the terms of description. The backdrop is that of impending social and technological change. The social and attitudinal characteristics that distinguish leaders from non-leaders among the fishermen of the sample area are pointed out. The criteria which, when satisfied, qualify an individual fisherman for leadership status are suggested. Because change is anticipated in the fisheries an attempt is made to determine to what degree the leadership criteria coincide with the characteristics of innovators as suggested by the pertinent literature. Three closely related variables appear to be associated with the influential fishermen. These are youth, relatively greater education, and relatively greater incomes. These characteristics as well as others suggest that the influential fishermen are more cosmopolitan than their fellows and conceivably are innovators as well as leaders. In general the implications of and the prerequisites for the initiation and conduct of change in the fishing industry are suggested. More emphatic leadership and greater cooperation among the fishermen are desirable. Similarly, improved communication between the fishermen and government agencies appears to be a prerequisite of a successful change programme.