Fachbereich 9

School of Business Administration and Economics

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Participatory approaches in environmental and natural resource policy

This subproject focuses on participatory policy interventions that aim to foster pro-social behavior in social dilemmas (aka collective action challenges). Examples include multi-stakeholder workshops, mini-publics such as citizens’ assemblies and cabildos abiertos and participatory vision-building exercises. Potential applications include watershed management, the spatial coordination of land uses as well as communal renewable energy strategies. We analyze to what degree such interventions can affect social preferences and relevant beliefs that affect cooperative behavior within the group and of the group in the protection of nature, the sustainable management of natural resources and the provision of environmental services to society. In addition to lab and field experiments, this subproject also involves a conceptual integration of different models of human cooperation from social psychology, behavioral economics and cognitive sociology, as well as of different insights from research on participatory governance, collective action and institutional analysis, into a unified framework.

Here, here and here (Chapter 8) you can find reviews of our and others' studies regarding the potential of participatory approaches for other-regarding behaviour in environmental and natural resource management.

Prosocial behaviour and collective action in the Cañete river watershed

This sub-project in Peru is part of the sub-project on participatory approaches.

Multi-stakeholder workshops for building common understandings and collective agreements

The project aimed at fostering pro-social behaviour and collective action for sustainable resource management in the Cañete river watershed (which comprises the provinces of Yauyos and Cañete in the Lima region, Peru). For that purpose, we first conducted a series of three multi-stakeholder workshops that brought together representatives from the upper and lower sections of the watershed, the main water uses (i.e. agriculture, power generation and human consumption), and the national and sub-national authorities involved in land-use and water management in the river basin. The workshops were to facilitate common understandings and collective agreements on desirable social and ecological outcomes and courses of action. To guide participants’ interactions towards such common understandings and collective agreements, we employed economic games, social cartography as well as group moderation and deliberation techniques such as the Metaplan. Throughout the entire participatory process, participants were thus motivated to take a broader perspective than their own; that is, they were motivated to consider the broader watershed dynamics, each other’s perspectives and stakeholders’ mutual dependencies to work out and commit to collective agreements on desirable outcomes and courses of action. Via this website, you can consult the final report on the activities and outputs of the project (available only in Spanish) and a video of the central multi-stakeholder workshop (available only in Spanish). You can also check the published guideline describing and explaining, for replication, the methods and processes used within the participatory intervention. (An extended preliminary draft of the guideline which expands on the descriptions and explanations of the participatory methods, and which also contains supporting material, can be consulted here.) The recording of the presentation of the guideline is also available for public viewing. A video of a similar participatory process in Colombia can also be viewed here. A study comparing the participatory intervention in Peru with another similar process conducted in Colombia can be consulted here.

Study on perspective-taking and pro-social behaviour in natural resource management

To assess the impact of inducing perspective-taking on pro-social behaviour in this context, we also conducted a controlled study in form of an economic lab-in-the-field experiment. In this study, farmers from the Cañete valley (the lower section of the watershed) were induced to consider upstream farmers’ situation, thoughts and feelings before deciding on a donation for a sustainable development initiative in the upper watershed. In this watershed—as in other similar watersheds in the Andean region—, upstream farmers bear the economic cost of nature protection and are relatively less well-off than downstream farmers, who benefit the most from water provision downstream. The study suggests that perspective-taking can indeed trigger pro-social behaviour, most likely by inducing decision-makers (downstream farmers, in our case) to consider and care for the well-being of those whose perspective is being taken on. Here you can access the article of the study. You can also access previous presentations of the study, respectively delivered at the Seminar Series of the Cardiff Water Research Institute and the EAERE 2020 session on “Promoting pro-social behaviour”.

Envisioning collective action and sustainability

Lake Guamuez (i.e., La Cocha), Museo Lago de Tota (in Lake Tota), and Páramo and farming landscapes (Lake Tota)

Pictures of the Lake Guamuez (i.e., La Cocha), the Museo Lago de Tota (in Lake Tota), and the Páramo and the farming landscapes (Lake Tota) by Juan Carlos Gómez-García and Juan Felipe Ortiz-Riomalo

A DFG-funded economic experiment on participatory vision-building for collective action and sustainable resource management. (Contract period: 01.05.2022 – 30/04/2024.)

(How) Might participatory vision-building (PVB) foster collective action in social dilemma situations in natural resource management? Although the available literature provides rich descriptions of PVB’s features and potential outcomes, research has not disentangled the causal impact of PVB. With this project, we contribute to disentangling the causal effect and exploring possible underlying mechanisms of PVB on collective action in natural resource management through a framed lab-in-the-field economic experiment conducted in the Colombian Andes.

The project comprises six stages: preparation, exploration, pre-tests and pilots, data collection, data analysis and dissemination. The preparatory stage primarily involved updating the literature review and consulting secondary sources about the potential study areas between May and August 2022. The exploratory phase complemented this information with contextual primary insights into the social-ecological context of the potential study areas, namely Lake Sonso, Lake Guamuez (i.e., La Cocha) and Lake Tota in Valle del Cauca, Nariño and Boyacá provinces, respectively (August and October 2022). In turn, the pre-test and pilot phase involved farmers close to those of the study population target to try, assess, refine and adapt critical features of the research design, first in La Cocha (with 27 farmers in February 2023) and then in Lake Tota (with 56 farmers between March and June 2023). Thereupon, 113 experiment sessions were part of the data collection phase between June 29th and November 5th 2023. Each session consisted of a group activity (i.e., the economic game), an individual survey and a donation exercise. After three practice exercises and before starting the activity, each group had a specific – randomly assigned – type of group conversation, which resembled different types of deliberative participatory processes aimed at vision-building and future-thinking for collective action and sustainable natural resource management. Activities related to data consolidation, cleaning and analysis, and result dissemination started at the end of 2023 and will extend into March and November 2024. 

Regular updates will be provided here and in the following site: 

      osf.io/a9tz2/ (The OSF project registration, which will be public from June 2024 onwards) 

The leading researchers of the project are Stefanie Engel (FB9 and IUSF, UOS, Germany), Ann-Kathrin Koessler (Leibniz University Hannover and IUSF, UOS, Germany) and Juan Felipe Ortiz-Riomalo (FB9 and IUSF, UOS, Germany). 

José Alejandro Aguilar (PUJ – Cali, Colombia), Sofía Castro (PUCP, Perú), Laura Herzog (IUSF, UOS, Germany), Luz Ángela Rodríguez (PUJ – Bogotá, Colombia) and María Alejandra Vélez (CESED and CEDE, Uniandes, Colombia) comprise the project’s advisory board. Carolin Janssen and Tobias Vorlaufer have provided additional feedback.  Ana Bentancur-Correa, María-Gabriela Barriga-Tobón, Daniela-Madelein Estacio-Hernández, Juan Carlos Gómez-García, Juan Felipe Ortiz-Riomalo, David Ramírez-Ramón and Juan José Rojas-Constaín integrated the field research team.

To kick-start the project in the field, the following people provided vital support and input: Omaira Bonilla, Homaira Jojoa, Martha Ortega, Patricia Riomalo, Gloria Pérez and Vicente Revelo in Lake Guamuez, i.e., La Cocha, Nariño province, for the first round of pre-tests. Javier Acevedo, Carolina Gómez, Erica Holguín, Leydi Holguín, Liliana Holguín, Yamile Mesa, María del Pilar Lemus, Alfonso Lemus, Lorena Martínez, Paola Pérez, Blanca Rengifo, Karla Rodríguez-Robayo, Leila Piragauta, María Isabel Ramírez, Ivonne Tristancho and Miguel Vera provided valuable input and guidance for the second round of pre-tests and the pilots in Lake Tota, Boyacá province. During the implementation of the experiment sessions, Cristian Bernal, Santiago Bohórquez, Yeimy Chaparro, Adriana Fonseca, Gerardo Gutiérrez, Patricia Martínez, Adriana Morales, Daniela Moreno, Oscar Ochoa, Ana Ramírez, Omaira Rosas, Andrés Talero and Sofía Vargas provided additional support and guidance.