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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Common pool resources and state intervention : why, when and how Tedder, Sinclair John


The objective of this dissertation is to understand why, when and how a state or other agent should intervene in a common pool social-ecological system. The answers to these questions provide the building blocks of an intervention framework to assist policy analysts identify institutional failure related to the appropriation of a common pool resource and design appropriate institutional change. The dissertation rejects the use of institutional paradigms such as centralization or decentralization and follows a problem based approach to institutional change. The Institutional Analysis and Development framework provides the research’s methodological structure. The common pool resource intervention framework is developed in three parts. The first building block is developed by answering the ‘why’ and ‘when’ questions through a review of common pool resource and institutional literature. The result is an institutional failure model to assess the risk of resource degradation and identify its sources. The second building block is devised through a review of institutional change literature and the role of the state within that change. The outcome is a typology of state intervention modes that guides the intensity of intervention, if intervention is necessary. Finally, to understand how to intervene, the dissertation undertakes a content analysis of 16 case studies of institutional change within common pool resource social-ecological systems. The outcome is the third component of the framework: a set of intervention properties providing a structure and method of intervention. Chapter 7 provides a test case using the commercial harvest of salal in British Columbia. The intervention framework is intended to bridge theoretical literature with the practical requirements of resource managers. The research and test of the intervention framework shows that a problem-based approach is a useful method to respond to common pool resource dilemmas. By avoiding the top-down application of institutional paradigms as panaceas, the method can avoid scale-mismatch when resource degradation is threatened and unnecessary intrusion when intervention is unwarranted. The results contribute to institutional theory by revealing properties of social change and providing links between institutional forms in time.

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