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The costs of power sharing : community involvement in Canadian porcupine caribou co-management Kofinas, Gary Peter

Abstract

Co-management arrangements are commonly framed with the theoretical assumption that community management systems function with a minimum of transaction costs and government-community power sharing lowers overall costs of management. Commonly overlooked both practically and theoretically are costs to communities. This dissertation investigates the involvement of three northern indigenous communities in a wildlife co-management arrangement to delineate community costs of power sharing. The subject of the study is the internationally migratory Porcupine Caribou Herd, Canada's three primary Porcupine Caribou user communities (Old Crow, YT, Aklavik, NT, and Fort McPherson, NT), and the resource regime established by the Canadian Porcupine Caribou Management Agreement and The Agreement between the Governments of Canada and the United States for the Conservation of Porcupine Caribou. Using multiple sources of evidence and drawing on the ethnographic method, the study documents emergent communication linkages between co-management boards and communities, analyzes locals' perceptions of caribou management information and scientific research activities, identifies patterns of interaction between researchers and hunters, and illustrates the constraints of choice available to hunters of the Canadian ' Porcupine Caribou co-management system. Presented is an account of the "1993 Caribou Crisis," a critical co-management incident in which hunters confront caribou researchers and face the dilemma of violating cultural traditions in order to stop proposed hydrocarbon development. Fundamentally, the study examines the consequence of interfacing authority systems and power dynamics of a formal co-management arrangement. The study also points to the limitations of rational choice perspectives when conducting institutional analysis, and the need to consider group identity, perspectives on uncertainty, and styles of learning when delineating transaction costs. From a more applied perspective, delineating anticipated and incurred community transaction costs of power sharing brings attention to the impediments to local involvement, how community members invest their energies in a co-management process, and who and by what method they bear the costs of shared decision making. Porcupine Caribou user communities make sacrifices when seeking to exercise authority in shared decision-making. The transaction costs of co-management associated with community involvement come at the price of time commitments and imposed schedules, restructuring of former traditions of leadership, and engaging with government agencies in bureaucratic processes. Internalizing authority in caribou management means that community members and leaders must decipher new information, interact with a host of players, engage in lobbying, and become involved in conflicts which are at times turbulent and controversial, as well as divisive to community. In some cases, the costs of power sharing are perceived to violate customary and traditional institutions regarding human-human, and human- caribou relations and in turn, undermine the well-being of the caribou resource and the relationships of those who depend on it.

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