UBC Faculty Research and Publications

The Effect of Communication on Individual Preferences for Common Property Resources : A Case Study of Two Canadian First Nations Nikolakis, William; Akter, Sonia; Nelson, Harry


Increasingly, Indigenous Peoples are being re-empowered to make decisions about whether to approve development on their lands. But how these decisions are made has received little attention in the literature. Oftentimes, referenda or the solicitation of individual preferences through surveys may be used as input into the acceptability of proposed development. However, the focus on individuals does not necessarily incorporate how community members perceive the collective benefits associated with these land use decisions, nor recognize the collective deliberation procedures employed by many of these cultures. Drawing on the results from a choice experiment with two Canadian First Nations groups, this paper examines whether communication in a group-setting influences individual preferences for three land use alternatives: Industrial Development, Tourism Promotion, and Conservation & Restoration. These alternatives had different economic and environmental attributes, expressed at more individual and collective levels. While respondents preferred land use alternatives that generated higher compensation and jobs, they preferred Conservation & Restoration activities over Tourism Promotion and Industrial Development ranked last. Introducing communication in a group context led to a change in individual preferences, where respondents switched their votes from the other two alternatives to Tourism Promotion. The results offer important insight into the role of ‘collective reflection’ in research methods to assess Indigenous Peoples land use preferences, and for the design of nascent processes for Free, Prior and Informed Consent(FPIC).

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