Collective Action in the Management of Common-Pool Resources: Is There an Alternative to the Rational Choice Model?

The literature on community based natural resource management largely focuses on developing conditions that enable self-organized groups of resource users to collectively manage common pool resources. The analytical approach in most economic analyses is that of methodological individualism, where hypotheses are based on the representative, rational and self-interested individual who maximizes utility and on the basis of observed attributes of several successful case studies, the theory focuses on creating incentives for collective action through institutional design. This paper argues that an incentive based approach following the rational-choice model of human behavior is not sufficient to explain the success of voluntary groups in overcoming the free rider problem and seeks explanations from social and behavioral theories for a better understanding of the outcome of collective action efforts. Based on illustrations from experiences in the Joint Forest Management program in India, the paper suggests a direction for survey research to that would enable us to identify some relevant behavioral regularities, such as endowment effects, loss aversion and framing, among the group of resource users that can be helpful in explaining the outcome of collective action efforts and can inform policy makers to design the policy in a way that is more likely to reinforce desired behavior.

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Graduate Research Master's Degree Plan B Papers

 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-01-22

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