CBIE Working Papers

Conditions for success in natural resource management by volunteer-based organizations: A study of lake management organizations in Vilas County, Wisconsin, USA.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Lakefront property owners form volunteer-based organizations to conserve and manage lakes. In Vilas County, Wisconsin, U.S.A., 115 common pool resource management organizations are organized around lakes. Despite a robust literature on institutional design, few studies endeavor a mid-size comparison of resource management organizations in a single geographic context. We address this gap by comparing thirty-one Vilas County, Wisconsin lake organizations using data collected through semi-structured interviews, websites, and agency databases during the summer of 2019.

On code sharing and model documentation of published Individual and agent-based models

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Being able to replicate research results is the hallmark of science. Replication of research findings using computational models should, in principle, be possible. In this manuscript, we assess code sharing and model documentation practices of 7,500 publications about individualbased and agent-based models. The code availability increased over the years, up to 18% in 2018.

Key criteria for successful collaborative management of natural resources

Friday, May 29, 2020

Achieving the Sustainable Development goals is going to require plenty of collaboration – across scales, over space and among a wide variety of stakeholders. It is therefore important that we learn how to collaborate successfully. The question of what makes collaborative management or governance successful has been considered by scholars across several disciplines. However, these largely separate conversations have been taking place in sub- disciplinary clusters of literature without much overlap.

Coding Manual: Characteristics of collaborative governance

Friday, April 24, 2020

This coding manual was created to assess collaborative natural resource management projects. It builds upon previous work done in our lab at Arizona State University (Carr Kelman et al. 2018; Carr Kelman, Brady & Schoon 2019) and on the workshop held at the Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society Conference in Oaxaca in November 2017. It builds on the basic structure of ‘Context-Mechanisms-Outcomes’ (CMO) used in realist evaluation methodology (Pawson & Tilley 1997; Salter & Kothari, 2014).

Keeping up shared infrastructure on a Port of Mars: An experimental study

Friday, December 13, 2019

In this study, we present a new game, Port of Mars, that allows for the study of collective action in extreme environments. The game is situated in the first‐generation habitat on Mars, to provide an engaging narrative of a collective action problem under high uncertainty. This pilot study finds that most groups are able to avoid the collapse of the habitat and that the existence of thresholds makes groups risk‐averse.

Factores para una colaboració n efectiva en el manejo ambiental, guía para profesionales de campo

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Esta guía nace del intento de destilar las fases tempranas de una investigación sobre una tipologı́a colaborativa, para el uso en terreno por profesionales que intentan desarrollar nuevas colaboraciones y/o reforzar las ya existentes. En este documento hemos elaborado una lista de factores claves y/o elementos que podrían conducir al éxito o fracaso de las actividades colaborativas. Esta lista está basada en nuestra experiencia en terreno y en la rica literatura científica existente en torno al tema.

Leading by example and endowment heterogeneity in local public good provision: A framed field experiment in Hyderabad, India

Friday, April 19, 2019

In India’s slums, toilets are commonly shared among households, which creates a collective action problem for the provision of toilet cleanliness and maintenance. We study the effect of heterogeneity and leading by example on cooperation in a framed field experiment with 120 slumdwellers from Hyderabad, India. Endowment heterogeneity has a negative effect on contributions.

Tragedy of the Commons as Conventional Wisdom in Sustainability Education

Monday, January 7, 2019

More than 50 years ago biologist Garrett Hardin published his influential essay "The Tragedy of the Commons." In this essay, Hardin argued that in situations where people share resources, external intervention via governmental regulations or privatization of the resource is needed to avoid resource overexploitation. While the article is considered by many resource governance scholars as misleading and incomplete, it is one of the most assigned articles in environmental education.

A Network Theory of Hunter-Gatherer Population Distribution

Friday, October 19, 2018

We develop a network theory of population distribution among mobile hunter-gatherers. This theory proposes that, due to the heterogeneity of resources in space and time, foragers create networks of habitats that they access through residential cycling and shared knowledge. The degree of cycling that individuals exhibit in creating networks of habitats, encoded through social relationships, depends on the relative scarcity of resources and fluctuations in those resources.

Refinements of the Robustness Framework: Towards a standardization of SES adaptation analysis

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

There are numerous frameworks for studying the governance of shared resources. The basic structure of these frameworks has been articulated many times in the literature. Although they have been applied to multiple cases, these applications are idiosyncratic, subject to the interpretation of the user, and raise concerns regarding the operational use of frameworks for case-study comparisons. As a result, insights from these studies do not live up to the aspirations of the frameworks to generate generalizable knowledge.

Institutional Analysis of Rules-In-Form Coding Guidelines

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Institutions are “the prescriptions that humans use to organize all forms of repetitive and structured interactions” (Ostrom, 2005, p. 3). Regardless of the label by which they are referred, such as rules or norms, institutions are social constructions: they represent shared understandings of behavior among actors who recognize, follow, and enforce the prescriptions. This document outlines a series of coding methods that can be used to analyze institutions-in-form, such as those found in public policy documents - from administrative rules to constitutions.

Making Sense of a Babbling Equilibrium across Common-pool Resources Frameworks

Friday, April 6, 2018

Conceptual frameworks provide a language with which to describe the states and dynamics of common-pool resource (CPR) management systems. Coding manuals define the vocabulary of coding questions and relationships that comprise CPR frameworks. As empirical study contributes to conceptual advance, it is tempting to offer novel framework languages without also translating coding vocabularies around which existing frameworks are built.

Measuring Learning from Interventions through Participatory Processes

Monday, April 2, 2018

There is an increasing use of models and games as interventions in participatory processes. Those interventions facilitate exploration and learning in a safe simulated environment. However, how do we measure if learning takes place, whether it results in behavioral change and whether it persists? We review the existing literature on social learning through participatory processes and how the impact of those interventions are measured.

Practitioner Brief on Factors for Effective Environmental Management Collaboration

Friday, March 16, 2018

This brief grew out of an attempt to distill the early research on a typology of collaboration for use in the field by practitioners attempting to build new collaborations and strengthen existing ones.  Here, we have created a list of the key factors or elements that lead to the success or failure of collaborations. This list builds on our field work as well as the rich literature on the topic.

How does knowledge infrastructure mobilization influence the safe operating space of regulated exploited ecosystems?

Friday, February 16, 2018

Managing and regulating exploited ecosystems is a critical issue because of uncertainties, non-linear dynamics, and time delays. Decision-makers often have to act before critical times to avoid the collapse of ecosystems using imperfect knowledge. Adaptive management may help managers tackle such issues.

Do Patents Improve the Innovation Process?

Monday, January 22, 2018

Innovation can be approached as a social dilemma. If innovators are rewarded for a successful innovation, sharing information about successes and failures during the innovation process will benefit the group, but not the individual innovator. Patents allow for innovators to share information about successes and also to collect some of the benefits. In this paper we report on a controlled experiment of an innovation task in which we test the effect of patents on the innovation process.

Drylab 2023: Living a Possible Future with Resource Scarcity

Friday, October 13, 2017

Eight female time travelers experienced a not-too-distant future of water scarcity in an isolated location in the Mojave Desert for four weeks. They could not use more than four gallons (= 15 liters) of water per person per day and consumed a water-wise vegan diet. This article reports and reflects on the experience of this art-science project. We show that the participants had no difficulty adjusting to a resource scarce environment or living in a remote location.

Exploring The Robustness of Regional Scale Coupled Infrastructure Systems: Water and Landuse in Central Arizona

Monday, August 28, 2017

Robustness and resilience have become central ideas in Sustainability Science in general and, more specifically, the study of social-ecological systems (SESs) and their capacity to cope with change (Anderies et al., 2013; Walker et al., 2009; Janssen et al., 2007; Janssen and Anderies, 2007; Walker et al., 2006; Adger et al., 2010; Eakin and Wehbe, 2009).

Playing Games to Save Water: Collective Action Games for Groundwater Management in India

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Groundwater is one of the most challenging common pool resources to govern, resulting in resource depletion in many areas. We present an innovative use of collective action games to not only measure propensity for collective action, but to improve local understanding of groundwater interrelationships and stimulate collective governance of groundwater, based on a pilot study with NGOs in Andhra Pradesh, India. The games simulate crop choice and consequences for the aquifer.

The Practice of Archiving Model Code of Agent-Based Models

Monday, October 24, 2016

To evaluate the concern over the reproducibility of computational science we reviewed 2367 journal articles on agent-based models published between 1990 and 2014 and documented the public availability of source code. The percentage of publications that make the model code available is about 10%. The percentages are similar for publications that are reportedly dependent on public funding.

Social Dilemmas Are Only Part of the Story to Explain Overharvesting of Renewable Resources

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

We report on experiments with a spatial explicit dynamic resource where individuals make incentivized real-time decisions when and where to harvest the resource units. We test how individuals make decisions when they manage the resource on their own, or share a resource twice the size with another person. We find that most individuals do not harvest resources close to the optimal strategy when they manage the resource individually, and this relates to their understanding of the instructions and their social orientation.

On Our Rapidly Shrinking Capacity to Comply with the Planetary Boundaries on Climate Change

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The planetary boundary framework constitutes an opportunity for decision makers to define climate policy through the lens of adaptive governance. Here, we use the DICE model for analyzing the set of adaptive climate policies that comply with the two planetary boundaries on climate change: 1) staying below a CO2 concentration of 550ppm until 2100 and 2) recovering 350ppm in 2100.

A Framework for Mapping and Comparing Behavioral Theories in Models of Social-Ecological Systems

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Formal models are commonly used in natural resource management (NRM) to study human-environment interactions and inform policy aking. In the majority of applications, human behavior is represented by the rational actor model despite growing empirical evidence of its shortcomings in NRM contexts.

Learning for Resilience-Based Management: Generating Hypotheses from a Behavioral Study

Friday, October 30, 2015

Encouragement of learning is considered central to resilience of complex systems such as social-ecological systems (SESs). However, despite the consensus on the centrality of learning, our understanding of the details of how learning should be encouraged remains far from settled. This study investigates that puzzle by examining existing data of a behavioral experiment of a SES that involves endogenous group learning. We generate new hypotheses regarding how learning should be encouraged by comparing the learning process undergone by 21 groups of human-subjects.

Food Security in the Face of Climate Change: Adaptive Capacity of Small-Scale Social-Ecological Systems To Environmental Variability

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Improving the adaptive capacity of small-scale irrigation systems to the impacts of climate change is crucial for food security in Asia. This study analyzes the capacity of small-scale irrigation systems dependent on the Asian monsoon to adapt to variability in river discharge caused by climate change. Our study is motivated by the Pumpa irrigation system, a small-scale irrigation system located in Nepal that is a model for this type of system.

Challenges and Opportunities in Coding the Commons: Problems, Procedures, and Potential Solutions in Large-N Comparative Case Studies.

Monday, July 13, 2015

On-going efforts to understand the dynamics of coupled social-ecological (or more broadly, coupled infrastructure) systems and common pool resources have led to the generation of numerous datasets based on a large number of case studies.

Contextualizing the Commons in a World of Interdependency: Qualitative Analysis of Quantitative Inconsistencies

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Previous statistical analyses of Elinor Ostrom's design principles have demonstrated that they have some predictive capacity to explain successful self-governance and CPR management regimes. But their implementation does not ensure success in multiple dimensions. Critiques have shown that there are important contexts and contingencies that these principles do not consider, and that other scholars working from different approaches could develop a different set of principles with similar explanatory power.

The Socioecology of Hunter-Gatherer Territorial Dynamics

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

This paper contributes to the development of a theory of hunter-gatherer territorial dynamics. We investigate the impact of institutions (rules and norms) that restrict the use rights of territories and the storage of food on population-territory size dynamics. Our results indicate that the storage of food fundamentally alters population-territory size dynamics in hunter-gatherer societies. When societies store food, territory size is a sub-linear function of population. When societies do not store food, the function is approximately linear.

Using Agent-Based Models to Compare Behavioral Theories on Experimental Data: Application for Irrigation Games

Friday, February 20, 2015

Behavioral experiments have demonstrated that people do cooperate in commons dilemmas. The traditional theory of selfish rational behavior is clearly falsified. However, we lack agreement on alternative formal models to explain the actions seen in the lab and beyond. In this paper, we will use agent-based models to compare alternative behavioral theories on a series of experimental data of irrigation games.

The E ffect of Information in a Behavioral Irrigation Experiment

Thursday, January 1, 2015

When governing shared resources, the level and quality of information available to resource users on the actions of others and the state of the environment may have a critical effect on the performance of groups. In the work presented here, we find that lower availability of information does not affect the average performance of the group in terms of their capacity to provide public infrastructure and govern resource use, but it affects the distribution of earnings and the ability to cope with disturbances.

A Comparative Ethnoarchaeological Analysis of Corporate Territorial Ownership

Friday, December 5, 2014

Ecological models are a fundamental tool that archaeologists use to clarify our thinking about the processes that generate the archaeological record. Typically, arguments reasoned from a single model are bolstered by observing the consistency of ethnographic data with the argument. This is often referred to as model validation, and establishes that an argument is reasonable.

The Puzzle of Good Governance: Putting the Pieces Together through the Lens of Ostrom's Design Principles

Monday, November 3, 2014

Governing common pool resources in the face of disturbances such as globalization and climate change is challenging. Success stories often become non-success stories when they are transplanted from one context, with a dierent set of conditions to another. We analyzed 69 cases of irrigation systems, sheries, and forests to understand some of the factors that underlie the long-term success of common pool resource management regimes in the face of change.

The Effect of Infrastructure on Social-Ecological System Dynamics: Provision Thresholds and Asymmetric Access

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

For several millennia, humans have created built environments to harness natural processes for their benefit. Today, human-environment interactions are mediated extensively by physical infrastructure in both rural and urban environments. Yet studies of social-ecological systems (SESs) have not paid suficient attention to how infrastructure influences coupled natural and social processes. This misses an important point: critical infrastructure is often a public good that depends on cooperation of the agents who share it.

Games for Groundwater Governance: Field Experiments in Andhra Pradesh, India

Monday, August 18, 2014

Groundwater is a common pool resource which experiences depletion in many places around the world. The increased use of irrigation and water demanding cash crops stimulate this development. We present results of field experiments on groundwater dilemmas performed in hard rock areas of Andhra Pradesh, India. Two NGOs (Foundation for Ecological Security and Jana Jagriti) ran the games in communities in which they were working to improve watershed and water management. Games were played with groups of five men or five women, followed by a community debriefing.

Understanding the Dynamics of Sustainable Social-Ecological Systems: Human Behavior, Institutions, and Regulatory Feedback

Monday, April 28, 2014

I present a general mathematical modeling framework that can provide a foundation for the study of sustainability in social ecological systems (SESs). Using basic principles from feedback control and a sequence of specific models from bioeconomics and economic growth, I outline several mathematical and empirical challenges associated with the study of sustainability of SESs. These challenges are categorized into three classes: 1) the social choice of performance measures, 2) uncertainty, and 3) collective action.

Lab Experiments on Irrigation Games Under Uncertainty

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Research on collective action and common pool resources is extensive. However, little work has concentrated on the effect of uncertainty in resource availability and collective action, especially in the context of asymmetric access to resources. Earlier works have demonstrated that uncertainty often leads to a reduction of collective action in the governance of shared resources. Here we assess how uncertainty in the resource availability may impact collective action. We perform a behavioral experiment of an irrigation dilemma.

Experimental Platforms for Behavioral Experiments on Social-Ecological Systems

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Recently, there has been an increased interest in using behavioral experiments to study hypotheses on the governance of social-ecological experiments. A diversity of software tools are used to implement such experiments. In this paper we evaluate various publicly available platforms that could be used in research and education on the governance of social-ecological systems. The aims of the various platforms are distinct and this is noticeable in the differences in their user-friendliness and their adaptability to novel research questions.

Comparative Water Law, Policies and Administration in Asia: Evidence from Seventeen Countries

Monday, October 14, 2013

Conventional wisdom suggests that improving water governance is the key to solving water insecurity in developing countries but there are also many disagreements on operational and methodological issues. In this paper, we build on the work of Saleth and Dinar and surveyed 100 water experts from 17 countries in Asia to compare 19 indicators of water laws, policies and administration among and within countries from 2001 to 2010.

Investing Time in the Public Good: A Web-based Threshold Public Good Experiment

Monday, October 7, 2013

In traditional public good experiments participants receive an endowment from the experimenter that can be invested in a public good or kept in a private account. In this paper we present an experimental environment that uses participants time as their natural endowment, which can be invested in the public good experiment. The experiment runs for several days and participants can make contributions to the threshold public good by logging into a web application and performing virtual actions.

The Effect of Constrained Communication and Limited Information in Governing a Common Resource

Monday, October 7, 2013

Allowing resource users to communicate in behavioral experiments on commons dilemmas increases the level of cooperation. In actual common pool resource dilemmas in the real world, communication is costly, which is an important detail missing from most typical experiments. We conducted experiments where participants must give up harvesting opportunities to communicate. The constrained communication treatment is compared with the effect of limited information about the state of the resource and the actions of the other participants.

Bene fits of Grouping and Cooperative Hunting Among Ache Hunter-Gatherers: Insights from an Agent-Based Foraging Model

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

We develop an agent-based model of foraging behavior based on ecological parameters of the environment and prey characteristics measured in the Mbaracayu Reserve Paraguay. We then compare predicted foraging behavior from our model to the ethnographically observed behavior of Ache hunter-gatherers who inhabit the region and show a close match for daily harvest rates, time allocation, and species composition of prey.

Publishing Model Documentation and Code: The CoMSES Net Computational Model Library

Friday, September 13, 2013

We present a repository for disseminating the computational models associated with publications in the social and life sciences. The number of research projects using computational models has been steadily increasing but the resulting publications often lack model code and documentation which hinders replication, verication of results and accumulation of knowledge. We have developed an open repository, the CoMSES Net Computational Model Library, to address this problem.

Conditional Behavior A ffects the Level of Evolved Cooperation in Public Good Games

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Human societies are unique in the level of cooperation among non-kin. Evolutionary models explaining this behavior typically assume pure strategies of cooperation and defection. Behavioral experiments, however, demonstrate that humans are typically conditional co-operators who have other-regarding preferences. Building on existing models on the evolution of cooperation and costly punishment, we use a utilitarian formulation of agent decision making to explore conditions that support the emergence of cooperative behavior.

Household Vulnerability and Institutional Fragility in a Socially Constructed Adaptive Landscape: The Case of Southwest Nova Scotia

Monday, May 20, 2013

Fishing communities and fisheries governance systems are dynamically engaged in a process of social, ecological, and economic change as they respond to double exposure from globalization and climate change (Leichenko and OBrien, 2008). In this study of the multi-species fishery of Barrington, Nova Scotia, I examine how fish harvesters have responded to warming water temperatures and declining wharf prices.

From Policy Instruments to Action Arenas: The Right to Self-Govern under Conditions of Social-Ecological Change in Nova Scotian Lobster Fisheries

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

To govern the commons, states often focus on structures or instruments, such as delegated co-management or tradable quotas. This research argues that this emphasis often presents a trade-off with making investments into socially just action arenas. I revisit the case of the Port Lameron groundsh and lobster fishery in Southwest Nova Scotia, Canada, originally explored by Elinor Ostrom in Governing the Commons (1990) based on research by Davis (1984).

Transformation of Resource Management Institutions under Globalization: The Case of Songgye Community Forests in South Korea

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The context in which many self-governing commons systems operate will likely be signicantly altered as globalization processes play out over the next few decades. Such dramatic changes will induce some systems to fail and subsequently transform rather than merely adapt. Despite this foreseeable trend, the research on globalization-induced transformations of social-ecological systems (SESs) is still underexplored.

A Multi-Method Approach to Study Robustness of Social-Ecological Systems: The Case of Small-Scale Irrigation Systems

Monday, January 7, 2013

Elinor Ostrom was a leader in using multiple methods to perform institutional analysis. In this paper we discuss how a multi-method approach she pioneered may be used to study the robustness of social-ecological systems. We synthesize lessons learned from a series of studies on small-scale irrigation systems in which we use comparative case study analysis, experimental methods in lab and field settings, and mathematical models.

Robustness of Social-Ecological Systems: Implications for Public Policy

Monday, January 7, 2013

Public policy processes are complex, dynamic phenomena. Understanding such dynamic phenomenon requires some sort of strategy for simplification - some way to isolate key system components and relationships among them that can be generalized to understand how the system structure defined by these components and relationships relates to policy outcomes across various contexts.

What to Monitor and at which Scale: Fragmented Landscapes and Insights on Large-Scale Conservation Management

Monday, January 7, 2013

In recent years there has been a shift in biodiversity conservation efforts from the confines of enclosed protected areas to a more expansive view of interlinked habitat patches across multiple land tenure types and land uses. However, much work remains on how conservation managers can intervene in such a system to achieve the sustainability of basic conservation goals.

Cooperation in Asymmetric Commons Dilemmas

Friday, December 7, 2012

This paper is a study of collective action in asymmetric access to a common resource. An example is an irrigation system with upstream and downstream resource users. While both contribute to the maintenance of the common infrastructure, the upstream participant has rst access to the resource. Results of our two-player asymmetric commons game show that privileged resource access player invest more than the downstream players.

Addressing Global Sustainability Challenges from the Bottom Up: The Role of Information Feedback

Friday, October 5, 2012

Global sustainable use of natural resources confronts our society as a collective action problem at an unprecedented scale. Past research has provided insights into the attributes of local social-ecological systems that enable effective self-governance. In this note we discuss possible mechanisms to scale up those community level insights to a larger scale. We do this by combining insights from social-psychology on the role of information feedback with the increasing availability of information technology.

Mobility, Resource Harvesting and Robustness of Social-Ecological Systems

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Globalization is an important feature affecting the robustness of small-scale social-ecological systems (SESs). Understanding the way globalization affects those systems is crucial for adaptation. In this paper we focus on analyzing how the increased displacement of resource users as a consequence of globalization affects the robustness of SESs. We developed a stylized agent-based model representing a dynamic population of agents moving and harvesting a renewable resource.

The Topology of Non-Linear Global Carbon Dynamics: From Tipping Points to Planetary Boundaries

Monday, August 20, 2012

This paper develops a minimal model of land use and carbon cycle dynamics and explores the relationship between nonlinear dynamics and planetary boundaries. Only the most basic interactions between land cover, terrestrial carbon stocks and atmospheric carbon stocks are considered.

Environmental Variability and Collective Action: Experimental Insights from an Irrigation Game

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Studies of collective action in commons dilemmas in social-ecological systems typically focus on scenarios in which actors all share symmetric (or similar) positions in relation to the common-pool resource. Many common social-ecological systems do not meet these criteria, most notably, irrigation systems.

Bottom Up Solutions for Global Change

Monday, April 30, 2012

A sustainable future requires a change of human activities at a global scale. Global agreements have not been very effective. At the local level there are many examples of successful efforts to solve collective action problems within social-ecological systems. The study of these examples has led to an understanding of the principles of self-governance. We propose to scale up these insights of self-governance using social media tools to address global change challenges.

The Effectiveness of Water, Hygiene, and Sanitation Interventions In Lowering Diarrheal Morbidity Across the Globe: A Systematic Review and Qualitative Analysis of Relevant Primary Literature

Monday, April 30, 2012

Around the globe, diarrheal disease causes millions of preventable deaths each year, with most in children zero to five years old. The transmission of disease follows a pathway in which fecal parts are spread to human hosts through fluids, tactile contact, flies, the environment, living quarters, and food. There are several barriers that can inhibit this transmission, with sanitation functioning primarily, while hygiene and potable water supply function as secondary barriers. A large amount of research has been done concerning the effectiveness of

The Role of Information in Governing the Commons: Experimental Results

Monday, April 30, 2012

The performance of institutional arrangements is expected to depend on the fit between institutions and ecological dynamics. The ecological dynamics affect the ability of resource users to observe the behavior of others as well as the state of the ecological systems. If ecological dynamics increase the costs of monitoring, we can expect institutional arrangements to be crafted that reduce the costs of monitoring. In case studies we see examples of how ecological dynamics affect rules for appropriation. 

CBIE Working Papers