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Title: Farmers cooperating in the commons?: A study of collective action in salinity management
Contributor(s): Marshall, GR  (author)
Publication Date: 2004
DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2004.06.016
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Abstract: The track record of community-based programs of natural resources governance in implementing the plans they have developed has been patchy at best. In particular, hopes that farmers' participation in decision-making within such programs would lead them to cooperate more voluntarily in implementing agreed solutions are frequently not realised. This article seeks to enhance implementation capacities in such community-based programs by furthering our empirical understanding of the factors affecting farmers' preparedness to cooperate in providing the kinds of collective goods with which these programs are typically concerned. The particular case studied concerns farmers in a major irrigated region of the Murray-Darling Basin in Australia faced with rising watertables and consequent worsening problems of irrigation salinity and waterlogging. Their jointly owned irrigation company—a common property regime—has been devolved rights and responsibilities for enforcing implementation of plans for collective action solving these problems that the farmers have helped develop and agreed to carry out. The empirical analysis involved ordered-probit multiple regression using data obtained from a face-to-face survey of 235 farm businesses. A key finding is that the farmers' preparedness to cooperate in implementing the agreed plans is more sensitive to socially oriented factors like perceptions of community benefits, and trust that others will also cooperate, than it is to the private materialistic considerations—like distributive fairness and business security—typically focused upon by governments in attempting to motivate farmer cooperation. Since it is not at all obvious that the costs of satisfying farmers' demands for business security or distributive fairness are less than that of promoting their trust in others, or their awareness of community benefits from conservation activities, it seems reasonable to suggest that these more socially oriented factors should be taken more seriously in designing and implementing programs of natural resources governance than has normally been the case to date.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Ecological Economics, 51(3-4), p. 271-286
Publisher: Elsevier
Place of Publication: Boston, USA
ISSN: 0921-8009
Field of Research (FOR): 050209 Natural Resource Management
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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