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How Fit Turns into Misfit and Back: Institutional Transformations of Pastoral Commons in African Floodplains

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Type: Journal Article
Author: Haller, Tobias; Fokou, GIlbert; Mbeyale, Gimbage; Meroka, Patrick
Journal: Ecology and Society
Volume: 18
Date: 2013
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/8813
Sector: Grazing
Region: Africa
Subject(s): flood management
governance and politics
institutional change
Abstract: "We enlarge the notion of institutional fit using theoretical approaches from New Institutionalism, including rational choice and strategic action, political ecology and constructivist approaches. These approaches are combined with ecological approaches (system and evolutionary ecology) focusing on feedback loops and change. We offer results drawn from a comparison of fit and misfit cases of institutional change in pastoral commons in four African floodplain contexts (Zambia, Cameroon, Tanzania (two cases)). Cases of precolonial fit and misfit in the postcolonial past, as well as a case of institutional fit in the postcolonial phase, highlight important features, specifically, flexible institutions, leadership, and mutual economic benefit under specific relations of bargaining power of actors. We argue that only by combining otherwise conflicting approaches can we come to understand why institutional fit develops into misfit and back again."

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