Perceived threats to Common-Pool Resources - An Ecology of Games Perspective to Micro-pollutant management in the Rhine Catchment Area

Herzog, Laura; Ingold, Karin (8 September 2017). Perceived threats to Common-Pool Resources - An Ecology of Games Perspective to Micro-pollutant management in the Rhine Catchment Area (Unpublished). In: ECPR General Conference. Oslo, Norway. 06.09.-09.09.2017.

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Threats to the resource water are becoming an increasingly common scenario. A joint solution of the common-pool resource (CPR) problem of water pollution is an especially challenging endeavor, as actors with a stake in it usually represent different sectors, levels, and often even diverse jurisdictions. In this complex setting, one can observe the emergence of platforms and venues, so-called policy games, within which actors from different backgrounds meet in order to find a common solution to the problem at stake. But are such institutional platforms actually enhancing actors’ cooperation which is needed to proceed with the solution of the environmental problem?

We want to understand in how far the existence of such institutional platforms concerning water management and actors’ membership therein affect actors’ cooperation behavior in a commonpool resource problem setting. Furthermore, the dependence on a CPR system is said to be one of the essential factors accounting for an increased likelihood of cooperation among the appropriators of a resource system. One could thus argue that a resource system that is at great risk would make its appropriators act. But is this really the case? In our study we thus look at the cooperation of actors involved in water quality management and analyze how a) their joint membership in waterbody associations on one side, and b) their perceived threat of a CPR problem on the other, impact their cooperation.

We combine insights from the socio-ecological systems framework and applications of the ecology of games framework. More concretely, we investigate cooperation relations among actors involved in transboundary water quality management along the Rhine River and compare three regional catchment areas. Our data was gathered in 2016 through a standardized survey of actors engaged in the management process of the CPR problem of micro-pollutants, i.e. potential toxic substances occurring in very small concentrations in waters. We collected network data on their cooperation pattern as well as data on their perception of the CPR problem and on their membership in platforms concerned with water management.

We argue that regular interactions between these actors form the cooperative structures the actors engage in: what we call a network of cooperation. Using inferential social network analysis allows us to identify factors accounting for tie creation between two actors active in the CPR problem situation: applying an exponential random graph modelling technique (ERGM), we test which factors – the actors’ perception of the CPR problem as well as their co-membership in waterbody associations – increase the chance that two actors cooperate with each other. The ERGM further allows us to control for other endogenous effects that may account for the creation of a tie between two actors.

By giving insights into the extent to which co-membership in a waterbody association and aspects of a CPR problem are likely to trigger actors’ engagement in cooperation, we aim to first, enhance CPR theory and theory on cooperation; and second, to shed light on how ecology of games-type of arrangements in water policy become less fragmented and more coherent.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Institute of Political Science

UniBE Contributor:

Herzog, Laura Mae Jacqueline, Ingold, Karin Mirjam


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 320 Political science




Laura Mae Jacqueline Herzog

Date Deposited:

17 Jul 2018 13:51

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:14


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