Developing a Robust System
analysis for a long-lasting Rural System
The following text was prepared by Bob Giles, September 15, 2006, in seeking ways to design and develop a robust socio-economic and socio-ecological system. It emerges from reading DESIGN PRINCIPLES FOR ROBUSTNESS OF INSTITUTIONS IN SOCIAL-ECOLOGICAL SYSTEMS © 2003 by J. Marty Anderies,Marco A. Janssen, and Elinor Ostrom
The suggested design principles orginally developed for robust common-pool resource institutions for for more general social-ecological systems. They addresses" ... systems where individuals have self-consciously invested resources in some type of physical and institutional infrastructure that affects the way the system functions over time in coping with diverse external disturbances and internal problems." Figure 1: A conceptual Model of a Social-Ecological System ________________________________________ Page 4 4 Table 1: Entities Involved in Social-Ecological Systems Uncertainty
By robustness of a system, we mean "the maintenance of some desired system characteristics despite fluctuations in the behavior of its component parts or its environment"
Table 2: Linkages Involved in Social-Ecological System
(1) Between Resource and Resource Users Availability of water at time of need/availability of fish Too much or too little water / too many of uneconomic fish - too few of valued fish Voting for providers Indeterminacy / lack of participation Contributing resources Free riding Recommending policies Rent seeking
(2) Between users and public infrastructure providers Monitoring performance of providers Lack of information/ free riding Building initial structure Over- or under-invest Regular maintenance Shirking
(3) Between public infrastructure providers and public infrastructure Monitoring and enforcing rules Cost / corruption
(4) Between public infrastructure and resource Impact of infrastructure on the resource level Ineffective
(5) Between public infrastructure and resource dynamics Impact of infrastructure on the feedback structure of the resource-harvest dynamics Ineffective, unintended consequences
(6) Between resource users and public infrastructure Coproduction of infrastructure itself, maintenance of works, monitoring and sanctioning No incentives / free riding
(7) External forces on resource Severe weather, earthquake, landslide Destroys resource and infrastructure
(8) External forces on resource users Major changes in political system, economic prices, new roads, and infrastructure Conflict, uncertainty, out- migration, greatly increased demand
Robust systems robust can be characterized as meeting a large number of the design principles listed below:
Design Principles Based on Ostrom (1990: 90)for Long-Enduring Institutions for Governing Sustainable Resources 1. Clearly Defined Boundaries The boundaries of the resource system (e.g., irrigation system or fishery) and the individuals or households with rights to harvest resource units are clearly defined. helps to identify who should receive benefits and pay costs. If these are not well defined, resource users are less willing to trust one another as they never know when strangers may take advantage of the reciprocity the resource users have built up over time to overexploit the resource. 2. Proportional Equivalence between Benefits and Costs Rules specifying the amount of resource products that a user is allocated are related to local conditions and to rules requiring labor, materials, and/or money inputs. Assigning a rough proportionality between the benefits a resource user obtains and the costs the user contributes to the public infrastructure provider for the public infrastructure 3. Collective-Choice Arrangements Most individuals affected by harvesting and protection rules are included in the group who can modify these rules. Decisions by local users to establish harvesting and protection rules (Principle 3) enable those with the most information and stake in a system to have a major voice in regulating use. Further, rules that most of the resource users themselves establish are better known, understood, and perceived as being legitimate. 4. Monitoring Monitors, who actively audit bio-physical conditions and user behavior, are at least partially accountable to the users and/or are the users themselves. 5. Graduated Sanctions Users who violate rules-in-use are likely to receive graduated sanctions (depending on the seriousness and context of the offense) from other users, from officials accountable to these users, or from both. Graduated sanctions preserve a sense of fairness by allowing flexible punishment when there is disagreement about rule infractions. Without these mechanisms the incentives to overharvest and free ride may again dominate strategic behavior. 6. Conflict-Resolution Mechanisms Users and their officials have rapid access to low-cost, local arenas to resolve conflict among users or between users and officials. 7. Minimal Recognition of Rights to Organize The rights of users to devise their own institutions are not challenged by external governmental authorities, and users have long-term tenure rights to the resource. Recognizing the formal rights of users to do the above prevents those who want to evade local systems from claiming a lack of legitimacy. In addition, nesting a set of local institutions into a broader network of medium- to larger-scale institutions helps to ensure that larger-scale problems are addressed as well as those that are smaller. Institutions that have failed to sustain resources tend to be characterized by very few of these design principles, and those that are characterized by some, but not most, of the principles are fragile. For resources that are parts of larger systems: 8. Nested Enterprises Appropriation, provision, monitoring, enforcement, conflict resolution, and governance activities are organized in multiple layers of nested enterprises. Potential additional design principles need to be defined for the ability of resource users to express their demand to public infrastructure, knowledge transfer between resource users and public infrastructure providers, accountability of investments by public infrastructure, and effects of public infrastructure on resource.
List based on Ostrom (1990: 90).
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Perhaps you will share ideas with me about some of the topic(s) above .
Robert H. Giles, Jr.
September 15, 2006