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Cooperation Is Not Enough - Exploring Social-Ecological Micro-Foundations for Sustainable Common-Pool Resource Use
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre. The Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Sweden.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre. The Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Sweden.
Number of Authors: 4
2016 (English)In: PLoS ONE, ISSN 1932-6203, E-ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 11, no 8, e0157796Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Cooperation amongst resource users holds the key to overcoming the social dilemma that characterizes community-based common-pool resource management. But is cooperation alone enough to achieve sustainable resource use? The short answer is no. Developing management strategies in a complex social-ecological environment also requires ecological knowledge and approaches to deal with perceived environmental uncertainty. Recent behavioral experimental research indicates variation in the degree to which a group of users can identify a sustainable exploitation level. In this paper, we identify social-ecological micro-foundations that facilitate cooperative sustainable common-pool resource use. We do so by using an agent-based model (ABM) that is informed by behavioral common-pool resource experiments. In these experiments, groups that cooperate do not necessarily manage the resource sustainably, but also over- or underexploit. By reproducing the patterns of the behavioral experiments in a qualitative way, the ABM represents a social-ecological explanation for the experimental observations. We find that the ecological knowledge of each group member cannot sufficiently explain the relationship between cooperation and sustainable resource use. Instead, the development of a sustainable exploitation level depends on the distribution of ecological knowledge among the group members, their influence on each other's knowledge, and the environmental uncertainty the individuals perceive. The study provides insights about critical social-ecological micro-foundations underpinning collective action and sustainable resource management. These insights may inform policy-making, but also point to future research needs regarding the mechanisms of social learning, the development of shared management strategies and the interplay of social and ecological uncertainty.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 11, no 8, e0157796
National Category
Biological Sciences Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Research subject
Sustainability Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-135102DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0157796ISI: 000382258100002OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-135102DiVA: diva2:1048725
Available from: 2016-11-22 Created: 2016-10-31 Last updated: 2017-04-18Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Human Behaviour in Social-Ecological Systems: Insights from economic experiments and agent-based modelling
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Human Behaviour in Social-Ecological Systems: Insights from economic experiments and agent-based modelling
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Progress towards sustainability requires changes in our individual and collective behaviour. Yet, our fundamental understanding of behaviour in relation to environmental change remains severely limited. In particular, little attention has been given to how individual and collective behaviours respond to, and are shaped by, non-linear environmental change (such as ‘regime shifts’) and its inherent uncertainties. The thesis makes two main contributions to the literature: 1) it provides one of the first accounts of human behaviour and collective action in relation to ecological regime shifts and associated uncertainties; and 2) extends the incipient behavioural common-pool resource literature that acknowledges social-ecological dynamics and ecological complexity. The overarching aim of this thesis is to further advance an empirically grounded understanding of human behaviour in social-ecological systems. In particular, the thesis attempts to unravel critical social-ecological factors and mechanisms for the sustainability of common-pool resources. This is especially relevant for contexts in which livelihoods can be more directly threatened by regime shifts. The following methods are applied: behavioural economic experiments in the lab (with students; Papers I and II) and in the field (with small-scale fishers from four different communities in the Colombian Caribbean; Paper III), and agent-based modelling empirically informed by a subset of the lab experiments (Paper IV). Paper I tests the effect of an endogenously driven regime shift on the emergence of cooperation and sustainable resource use. Paper II tests the effect of different risk levels of such a regime shift. The regime shift in both papers has negative consequences for the productivity of the shared resource. Paper III assesses the effect of different degrees of uncertainty about a climate-induced threshold in stock dynamics on the exploitation patterns; as well as the role of social and ecological local context. Paper IV explores critical individual-level factors and processes affecting the simultaneous emergence of collective action and sustainable resource use. Results cumulatively suggest that existing scientific knowledge indicating the potential for ecological regime shifts should be communicated to affected local communities, including the remaining uncertainties, as this information can encourage collective action for sustainable resource use. Results also highlight the critical role of ecological knowledge, knowledge-sharing, perceived ecological uncertainties, and the role local contexts play for sustainable outcomes. This thesis enriches the literature on social-ecological systems by demonstrating how a behavioural experimental approach can contribute new insights relevant for sustainability. Overall, these insights indicate that, given the opportunity and the willingness of people to come together, share knowledge, exchange ideas, and build trust, potential ecological crises can encourage collective action, and uncertainties can be turned into opportunities for dealing with change in constructive ways. This provides a hopeful outlook in the face of escalating environmental change and inherent uncertainties.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, 2017. 81 p.
Keyword
Human behaviour, Common-pool resources, Ecological complexity, Collective action, Sustainable resource use, Regime shifts, Thresholds, Uncertainty, Communication, Knowledge-sharing, Economic experiments, Laboratory and field experiments, Agent-based modelling, Complex adaptive systems, Social-ecological systems
National Category
Environmental Sciences Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Research subject
Sustainability Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-141696 (URN)978-91-7649-760-9 (ISBN)978-91-7649-761-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-05-17, Vivi Täckholmsalen (Q-salen), NPQ-huset, Svante Arrhenius väg 20, Stockholm, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 3: Manuscript.

Available from: 2017-04-24 Created: 2017-04-18 Last updated: 2017-05-17Bibliographically approved

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