Local institutions and Natural Resource Management

As researchers and policy-makers confront the challenges of and opportunities for improving natural resource management, increasing attention is being given to the dynamics of coupled natural-human systems. Interdisciplinary study of these coupled systems has generated considerable research and management innovations. Among these are more intensive research of the emergence and behavior of local institutions and consideration of the potential for voluntary and/or collaborative approaches to supplement conventional natural resource policy and management approaches. Front and center in this line of research are studies of local institutional responses to common pool resource management issues. Over time, this productive line of research is encouraging greater integration of insights across social science fields and identification of systematic patterns in research findings. Responding to such encouragement, this research blends insights from collective action theory, institutional rational choice and the institutional analysis and development (IAD) framework to investigate the distribution and success of resource-based organizations. Moreover, our research makes a unique contribution to this literature by considering the spatial aspects of these institutions' formation, behavior and success. Lake associations are an interesting class of resource-based organizations. These local, lake-centered institutions strive to address management issues using informal and voluntary strategies. Lake associations are most common in lake-rich states, including Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, New York, New Hampshire and Maine. The objectives of these groups vary from narrow (private road maintenance) to broad (watershed health). These organizations allow for lake-centered boundaries including multiple jurisdictions, provide a voice to seasonal property owners, and resolve some issues related to coordination, property rights, and transaction costs. The numerous and diverse lake associations of Maine are the focus of our empirical work. The primary research objective of this analysis is to develop an integrated empirical modeling framework of lake association presence and lake management success. To fulfill this objective, we examined the relative performance of empirical econometric models that ignore and address potential sample selection bias. Because we only observe measures of lake association management success on lakes that have a lake association, the sample is non-random. In our empirical work, entry into the lake association management success sample is further complicated by our reliance on survey data to describe management behavior and performance. A broad secondary research objective is to continue exploring the extent to which the Institutional Development Analysis (IAD) framework can be used to explain the distribution and behavior of Maine lake associations. We assembled an extensive spatial database describing natural and human features of 2,602 Maine lakes (Maine's great ponds; > 10 acres in size) to support this analysis. We integrated this extensive database with a smaller survey-based database describing lake association behavior and natural resource management success. Data describing the distribution and success of lake associations were drawn from non-government organization, federal and state agency databases and primary survey data collected to describe social and economic characteristics of Maine lakes. We captured additional lake and association attributes by manipulating various state and federal GIS databases and creating primary spatial databases. Results to date reveal support for the IAD theoretical framework in describing factors influencing the presence of lake associations. These results offer guidance on how to better integrate the informal approaches of local institutions with more formal, regional government-based management approaches. By understanding where local institutions are likely to form and what issues they are best suited to address, state and federal government agencies can better work with local organizations to address the complexities of natural resource management. Results explaining variation in natural resource management success and the potential gains from an integrated model of presence and success are less robust and are constrained by limited available data describing management behavior and success.

Issue Date:
Publication Type:
Conference Paper/ Presentation
Record Identifier:
PURL Identifier:
Total Pages:
Series Statement:
Selected Paper

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

Download fulltext

Rate this document:

Rate this document:
(Not yet reviewed)