The scope for collective action in a large groundwater basin: An institutional analysis of aquifer governance in Western Australia

James Skurray

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    7 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The Gnangara groundwater system in Western Australia supports multiple ecological systems and human uses, and is under unprecedented stress. This paper examines some of Ostrom's ‘situational variables’ for the analysis of institutional choice in common-pool resources, as they relate to the Gnangara case. The institutional analysis identifies elements of the current governance institutions that could be altered to facilitate collective action. We use data from a set of water licensing documents obtained from the state's Department of Water. A number of factors are identified as inhibiting the potential for collective action. Current arrangements are top–down in nature, with all rules, monitoring, and any enforcement supplied by the state-level management agency. Norms and expectations among appropriators appear to be competitive rather than co-operative, and discount rates appear to be high. Monitoring and enforcement are under-supplied, and opportunistic behaviour affects compliance. The interactions between user and regulator influence the appropriation of flows, and have resulting impacts on the resource stock. We conclude that several factors in this case prejudice the development of collective action institutions by appropriator efforts alone. The study highlights important aspects of the institutional arrangements in place, and their likely effects upon the attitudes and behaviours of appropriators who, along with wildlife and ecosystems, depend on the common-pool resource.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)128-140
    JournalEcological Economics
    Volume114
    Early online date1 Apr 2015
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015

    Fingerprint

    collective action
    aquifer
    groundwater
    resource
    basin
    discount rate
    monitoring
    compliance
    water
    ecosystem
    analysis
    Western Australia
    Collective action
    Ground water
    Governance
    Institutional analysis
    enforcement
    Factors
    Water
    Monitoring and enforcement

    Cite this

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    abstract = "The Gnangara groundwater system in Western Australia supports multiple ecological systems and human uses, and is under unprecedented stress. This paper examines some of Ostrom's ‘situational variables’ for the analysis of institutional choice in common-pool resources, as they relate to the Gnangara case. The institutional analysis identifies elements of the current governance institutions that could be altered to facilitate collective action. We use data from a set of water licensing documents obtained from the state's Department of Water. A number of factors are identified as inhibiting the potential for collective action. Current arrangements are top–down in nature, with all rules, monitoring, and any enforcement supplied by the state-level management agency. Norms and expectations among appropriators appear to be competitive rather than co-operative, and discount rates appear to be high. Monitoring and enforcement are under-supplied, and opportunistic behaviour affects compliance. The interactions between user and regulator influence the appropriation of flows, and have resulting impacts on the resource stock. We conclude that several factors in this case prejudice the development of collective action institutions by appropriator efforts alone. The study highlights important aspects of the institutional arrangements in place, and their likely effects upon the attitudes and behaviours of appropriators who, along with wildlife and ecosystems, depend on the common-pool resource.",
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    The scope for collective action in a large groundwater basin: An institutional analysis of aquifer governance in Western Australia. / Skurray, James.

    In: Ecological Economics, Vol. 114, 06.2015, p. 128-140.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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