Doctoral Research Proposal Social Networks (DOC) by jnq48892

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									                                                                               February, 2008
Ilona Banaszak
Institute for Forecasting
Slovak Academy of Sciences
Bratislava, Slovak Republic


                              Post-doctoral research outline

1. Working title of the research project


The Impact of Different Environmental Governance Structures on Innovation and Social
                                      Learning

2. Aim of the research
Attributes of environmental resources such as combinations of rivalry and excludability
of consumption involve interdependencies which create conflicts between the actors
involved. The attributes of environmental resources affect solutions for governing them
(Paavola 2007: 95). Environmental governance is “the establishment, reaffirmation or
change of institutions to resolve conflicts over environmental resources.” (Paavola 2007:
93). Institutions facilitate resolving environmental conflicts through launching a particular
balance between conflicting interests by establishing, reaffirmation or redefining
entitlements (Paavola 2007: 95).
Institutional arrangements, which are also called governance structures, are
mechanisms for coordinating economics transactions and they are ways of implementing
informal constrains (customs, traditions, norms) and formal rules (constitutions, laws,
property rights) defined by the institutional environment (Davis and North 1971;
Gatzweiler et al. 2001: 32). “Governance structures are mechanisms which coordinate
relationships between actors and thereby influence their action selection.” (Gatzweiler et
al. 2001: 30). Governance structures are very differentiated. They include market
arrangements such as tradable pollution quotas, hierarchies such as environmental
bureaucracies, and hybrid forms such as contractual relations (e.g. stewardship
contracts, horizontal non-market co-ordination such as cooperation and participation,
formal and informal networks).
         The purpose of the research is to investigate how different environmental
governance structures stimulate emergence of innovative processes and actions in
natural resource management and how they stimulate feedback and learning
mechanisms.

3. Summary of the theoretical approach
The research is primarily located within the concepts of New Institutional Economics.
Institutions consist of informal constrains such as customs, traditions and codes of
conduct, and formal rules such as constitutions, laws and property rights. Institutions are
humanly devised in order to reduce uncertainty in exchange. Together with economic
constrains they define the choice set individuals are facing and profitability and feasibility
of engaging in economic activity (North 2005: 24).


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        Institutions are also closely related to the process of cumulative learning of the
society, which is embodied in the culture of the society. Learning is another way of
reducing uncertainty (North 2005: 24). “’Social learning’ (Bandura 1977) refers to the
combination of direct and vicarious reinforcements as the primary elements of human
adaptation (Macy 1996: 106). Wenger (1998) gives emphasis to learning as
participation. Individuals engage in actions and interactions that are embedded in
culture, history and social structures. The interactions might also change the social
structures. Such learning processes confirm and change social practice and the
interpretation of the environment (Pahl-Wostl and Hare 2004: 194).



4. References

Bandura, A. (1977). Social Learning Theory. New York: Prentice Hall
Davis, L., North, D.C. (1971). Institutional Change and American Economic Growth. New
       York: Cambridge University Press
Gatzweiler, F., Sipiläinen, T., Bäckman, S., Zellei, A. (2001). Analysing Institutions,
       Policies, and Framing Systems for Sustainable Agriculture in Central and Eastern
       European Countries in Transition, CEESA Discussion Paper No. 2/5/2001
North, D. (2005). Institutions and the Performance of Economies Over Time. In: Ménard,
       C., Shirley, M.M. (eds.), Handbook of New Institutional Economics, Berlin:
       Springer
Paavola, J. (2007). Institutions and Environmental Governance: A Reconceptualization.
       Ecological Economics, 63, pp.93-103
Pahl-Wost, C., Hare, M. (2004). Processes of Social Learning in Integrated Resources
       Management, Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 14: 193-206
Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of Practice: Learning, meaning, and identity.
       Cambridge: Cambridge University Press




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