'Institutional Shopping' for Natural Resource Management in a Protected Area and Indigenous Territory in the Bolivian Amazon.

Wartmann, F.; Haller, Tobias; Backhaus, N. (2016). 'Institutional Shopping' for Natural Resource Management in a Protected Area and Indigenous Territory in the Bolivian Amazon. Human organization, 75(3), pp. 218-229. Society for Applied Anthropology 10.17730/1938-3525-75.3.218

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Focusing on an overlapping protected area and indigenous territory in the Bolivian Amazon, this article discusses how indigenous people continue to negotiate access to natural resources. Using the theoretical framework of New Institutionalism, ethnographic data from participatory observations, and interviews with Takana indigenous resource users and park management staff, we identified four phases of institutional change. We argue that under the current institutionally pluralistic setting in the overlapping area, indigenous users apply “institutional shopping” to choose, according to their power and knowledge, the most advantageous institutional framework in a situation. Indigenous users strategically employed arguments of conservation, indigeneity, or long-term occupation to legitimize their claims based on the chosen institution. Our results highlight the importance of ideologies and bargaining power in shaping the interaction of individuals and institutions. As a potential application of our research to practice, we suggest that rather than seeing institutional pluralism solely as a threat to successful resource management, the strengths of different frameworks may be combined to build robust institutions from the bottom up that are adapted to the local context. This requires taking into account local informal institutions, such as cultural values and beliefs, and integrating them with conservation priorities through cross-cultural participatory planning.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Art and Cultural Studies > Institute of Social Anthropology

UniBE Contributor:

Haller, Tobias


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology




Society for Applied Anthropology




Johanna Weidtmann

Date Deposited:

27 Jul 2016 13:09

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:57

Publisher DOI:






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