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Search, Communication and the Preconditions for Collective Action in Three Fisheries

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Wilson, James; Acheson, James M.; Johnson, Teresa R.
Conference: Design and Dynamics of Institutions for Collective Action: A Tribute to Prof. Elinor Ostrom, Second Thematic Conference of the IASC
Location: Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands
Conf. Date: 29 November - 1 December
Date: 2012
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/8650
Sector: Fisheries
Region: North America
Subject(s): fisheries
collective action
resource management
Abstract: "In this article, we compare the Maine sea urchin, lobster and groundfish fisheries with the goal of giving another viewpoint on factors causing the differential success of management efforts in these three fisheries. In 1990 Elinor Ostrom published her famous list of the preconditions conducive to successful collective action. We argue that the preconditions she lists, especially those that are the self-organized product of individuals interactions with each other (not those that are principally a product of broader-scale formal governance) and with the environment, are sensitive to the costs individuals incur while learning about and adapting to complex natural and social environments. Our motivation is to address Ostroms admonition for 'further work to explain why some contextual variables enhance cooperation while others discourage it.' (Ostrom, 2000b). We focus our argument on the way different environments lead to different problems of learning and adaptation, and consequently, to the emergence of different social structure and dynamics that may or may not be conducive to collective action. We then turn to a quick description of the way the problem of learning and adaption affects informal social structure and the likelihood of collective action in three fisheries. We believe this focus on learning and adaptation leads to a better understanding of the ways natural and human systems interact and, thereby, adds to the literature concerning the success and failure of collective action in the commons."

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