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Ecological interdependencies and resource competition: The role of information and communication in promoting effective collaboration in complex management situations
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre.
2019 (English)In: PLoS ONE, E-ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 14, no 12, article id e0225903Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Communication between resource users has repeatedly been shown to be of significant importance in environmental management. The proposed causal mechanisms are numerous, ranging from the ability of users to share information to their ability to negotiate solutions to common problems and dilemmas. However, what is less known is under what conditions these potential causal mechanisms are important and if, in cases when different means other than communication were available, whether they would be more effective in accomplishing these objectives. An example of such an alternative could be that instead of (or in addition to) users being reliant on within-group communication to acquire useful information an intermediary—such as a public agency—could provide that for them. Furthermore, the different causal mechanisms making communication beneficial might not be independent, neither in respect to each other, nor in respect to other externally imposed means to facilitate better environmental management, and not in regards to different contextual factors. This study makes use of laboratory experiments in an innovative way to explore these questions and specifically test the relative importance of communication in managing complex social-ecological system characterized by common-pool resource dilemmas, ecological interdependencies, and asymmetric resource access–all characteristics being present simultaneously. We find that when resources users are confronted with such a complex challenge, the ability to communicate significantly increases individual and group performance. What is more surprising is the negative effect on overall outcomes that providing external information has on outcomes, when the users also have the ability to communicate. By analysing the content of the conversations we are able to suggest several possible explanations on how the combination of external information provisioning and user communications act to increase individual cognitive load and drives intra-group competition, leading to a significant reduction of individual and group outcomes. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. Vol. 14, no 12, article id e0225903
Keywords [en]
article, competition, controlled study, conversation, environmental management, human, human experiment
National Category
Other Social Sciences Earth and Related Environmental Sciences Communication Systems
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-178216DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0225903Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85076677255OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-178216DiVA, id: diva2:1387177
Available from: 2020-01-20 Created: 2020-01-20 Last updated: 2020-01-21Bibliographically approved

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