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Institutional Rational Choice Theory and Design of Appropriate Institutional Arrangements for Natural Resource Management: The Case of Sand Dune Fixation in Mauritania

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Lund, Soren
Conference: Reinventing the Commons, the Fifth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Bodoe, Norway
Conf. Date: May 24-28, 1995
Date: 1995
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/1608
Sector: Theory
Region: Africa
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources
rational choice theory--case studies
institutional analysis
resource management
drought
Abstract: "The paper is a presentation of the results of a quasi-experimental exercise undertaken with the purpose of applying and validating Rational Institutional Choice (RIC) Theory on a specific development task: the provision and production of sand dune fixation installations in Mauritania. "As a first step, the analysis undertaken concludes that sand dune fixation is an economic task which is basically to be organized on a local scale, having a composite economic nature, and yielding a range of differing types of economic goods. The specific set of theoretically identified appropriate institutional arrangements therefore is also a combination of several types of (mainly) decentralized arrangements: public sector, common property, and private. "The paper then proceeds to explore the external validity of the RIC-theory by considering the institutional arrangements actually applied during the planning and implementation of the sand dune fixation project in Mauritania. The outcome is measured in terms of relative frequency of reported transaction costs observed in each case. "The field data presented corroborate the theoretically expected outcome. The decentralized contractual management arrangements used in two cases yielded relatively lower frequencies of reported transaction costs than the centralized state management applied in the third case. "Finally, the paper suggests that the successful institutional rearrangement achieved during the implementation of the Mauritanian Sand Dune Fixation Project, where management and ownership rights and responsibilities to a large extent have been transferred from a centralized government agency to a local governance organization in fact can be said to constitute an example of a successful reinvention of the commons governed by formalized common property regimes."

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