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Comprehending Institutions more Thoroughly: A Complementary Application of the Institutional Resource Regimes (IRR) approach and the SES Framework (SESF) in the Context of Pesticide Use Regulation in Tropical Agriculture

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Wiedemann, Ruth; Herzog, Laura M.
Conference: In Defense of the Commons: Challenges, Innovation and Action, the Seventeenth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons
Location: Lima, Peru
Conf. Date: July 1-5
Date: 2019
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/10644
Sector: Agriculture
Subject(s): social-ecological systems
Abstract: "Solving common-pool resource (CPR) problems requires adequate rules and regulations to structure and guide a sustainable use of the given CPR. To understand the different types of regulations, CPR research has elaborated analytical frameworks that aim at disentangling the diverse layers and elements of CPR settings. The most prominent ones are the Institutional Analysis and Development Framework (IAD) and the Social-Ecological System Framework (SESF). Both consider the regulatory as well as the ecological components of a CPR problem. An analytical tool that specifically assesses the institutional setting of CPR situations is the Institutional Resource Regimes (IRR) approach by Gerber et al. (2009). This paper examines the IRR’s potential to grasp the comprehensiveness of institutions and their ability to successfully tackle the given CPR problem. It scrutinizes the IRR’s complementarity to the SESF and its overall contribution to the study of institutions in CPR settings. The paper’s research question is thus: which innovative insights does the IRR contribute to the study of institutions in CPR problem settings? The study explores the potential of this analytical tool to specify the institutions of a CPR problem situation and to denominate their adequacy in solving the CPR problem at stake. Taking an analytical descriptive perspective, the paper first outlines the IRR’s scope and analytical objectives and formulates its potential assets for the study of institutions in the context of wicked environmental problems. A complementary application of the commonly used SESF and the IRR stresses the IRR’s contributions to the study of institutions. Both frameworks are applied to the CPR problem of water contamination caused by pesticide use in Costa Rican agriculture. The study highlights the added value of integrating the IRR and the SESF when analyzing rules in a CPR problem setting: its assessment of both private property rights and public policies, its definition of different regulation modes, and its categorization of resource regimes based on the regulations’ extent and coherence. The paper closes with a critical discussion of the IRR’s contributions to the study of the commons in the 21st century. Being the first application of the IRR in the context of an upper middle-income country in Latin America, this paper is a conceptual contribution to the omnipresent challenge of overcoming CPR problems."

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