April 17, 2018

Kate Crosman and Ann Bostrom Awarded Research Grant

Congratulations to Kate Crosman and Ann Bostrom on the award of the NSF doctoral dissertation research grant “Assessing international NGO influences on coastal resource management by communities and users.” This is a $30,913 award with full indirects.

From the eGC1 abstract:

Project Overview
Community-based management of marine resources (CBM), in which resource-dependent communities take active part in making and enforcing rules governing resource use, has been embraced by funders, non-governmental organizations, governments and communities throughout the developing world. This project proposes to investigate causal links between the activities of international non-governmental conservation organizations (INGOs) and community-level adoption and implementation of CBM through a process tracing approach. Data will be collected through fieldwork in Fiji. A minimum of sixteen interviews will be conducted with local leaders in eight purposively selected Native Fijian case study communities that are matched on community size and reliance on marine resources, but that vary on INGO involvement, adoption of CBM, and implementation of CBM. In order to triangulate findings, data collection will also include formal CBM adoption and implementation documentation, as well as interviews with representatives of INGOs active in the case study communities, supplemented with a broader survey of INGOs active in Fijian CBM. Process tracing uses structured analysis of qualitative data to establish causality by identifying the series of events leading up to an outcome of interest and subjecting them to conceptual tests designed to identify cause and effect. Process tracing will be used to identify INGO activities and influence on a) material and normative incentives for local adoption and implementation of CBM, and b) local decision-making structures. Process tracing analysis will also test whether local decision-maker attitudes mediate INGO influence on CBM uptake. Finally, counterfactual cases will allow for exploration of alternate pathways to local adoption and/or implementation of CBM.

Intellectual Merit
When determining whether or not local communities will successfully self-organize to manage the resources on which they rely, common pool resource theory places the “why” (the incentive structures facing user groups) and “how” (those groups’ decision-making structures) at the heart of the question (Ostrom 1990). However, while INGOs are known to actively seek to promote CBM uptake (Cohen, Evans, and Govan 2015; Bell et al. 2009), the specifics and effects of INGO involvement in CBM remain largely unaddressed. Thus, despite extensive work on the factors which influence the likelihood the adoption and implementation of CBM (Ostrom 1990; Agrawal 2001), current research does not allow us to fully assess what drives modern-day CBM uptake, neglecting as it does systematic and rigorous exploration of the role of INGOs. This study seeks to address this gap. Expected findings are that INGO activities alter both the incentives and decision-making structures faced by local communities, but that such influence is mediated by pre-existing local decision-making structures as well as the motivations and attitudes of individual local leaders.

Broader Impacts
Local involvement in management is associated with improved ecological outcomes in marine systems, particularly coral reefs (Evans, Cherrett, and Pemsl 2011; Campbell et al. 2013; Cinner et al. 2012; Cinner et al. 2016). Ecological success associated with CBM is especially compelling given a rapidly growing global reliance on fish for food that is especially concentrated in lower-income nations (Farmer, Grainger, and Plummer 2014). CBM has been directly forwarded as a way to improve developing-world fish stocks (Costello et al. 2012) and food security for vulnerable global populations (Bell et al. 2009). Hence, if successful, the resulting detailed causal understanding of the links between INGOs, local communities, and CBM will be of applied interest to a variety of stakeholders, including national governments seeking to improve food security, INGOs seeking to balance human needs with ecosystem needs, network organizations seeking to empower sustainable local communities, and local communities seeking to maintain local livelihoods and ways of life. In the interests of improving both organizational effectiveness and community well-being, results will be reported back to all research participants through an executive summary; findings are expected to allow INGOs, network organizations, and communities to better institute CBM and thereby reap improved outcomes. In addition, results will be broadly disseminated to the academic and expert communities through peer-reviewed publications and academic conference presentations.