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Maintaining cooperation in social-ecological systems: Effective bottom-up management often requires sub-optimal resource use
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre.
Princeton University, USA; Beijer Institute for Environmental Economics, Sweden; Resources for the Future, Sweden.
Number of Authors: 3
2017 (English)In: Theoretical Ecology, ISSN 1874-1738, E-ISSN 1874-1746, Vol. 10, no 2, 155-165 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Natural resources are vulnerable to over-exploitation in the absence of effective management. However, norms, enforced by social ostracism, can promote cooperation and increase stock biomass in common-pool resource systems. Unfortunately, the long-term sustainable use of a resource is not assured even if cooperation, maintained by ostracism and aimed at optimizing resource use, exists. Here, using the example of fisheries, we show that for a cooperative to be maintained by ostracism over time, it often must act inefficiently, choosing a 'second-best' strategy where the resource is over-harvested to some degree. Those cooperatives that aim for maximum sustainable profit, the first-best harvest strategy, are more vulnerable to invasion by independent harvesters, leading to larger declines in the fish population. In contrast, second-best strategies emphasize the resistance to invasion by independent harvesters over maximizing yield or profit. Ultimately, this leads to greater long-run payoffs to the resource users as well as higher resource stock levels. This highlights the value of pragmatism in the design of cooperative institutions for managing natural resources.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 10, no 2, 155-165 p.
Keyword [en]
Commons, Cooperation, Evolutionary game theory, Social-ecological systems, Fisheries, Human behavior, Sustainability, Coupled natural-human systems, Collective action
National Category
Biological Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-144804DOI: 10.1007/s12080-016-0318-8ISI: 000400932300002OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-144804DiVA: diva2:1121653
Available from: 2017-07-12 Created: 2017-07-12 Last updated: 2017-07-12Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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  • apa
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