'The Journal of Transdisciplinary Environmental Studies' (TES)
Volume 1, Number 2, Dec. 2002

ISSN 1602-2297

Community Participation
in Natural Resource Management Projects:
A Rational Institutional Choice?
Some Evidence from Sand Dune Fixation
in Mauritania

Søren Lund, Associate Professor, Ph.D.
Department of Environment, Technology and Social Studies, Roskilde University, Denmark
E-mail: slund@ruc.dk

Abstract: Community Participation in Natural Resource Management projects has been a concept much debated in international development planning and policy-making. However, the debates tend to be based on undocumented postulates and implicitly normative statements on why, when, and how local communities should or should not be involved. Approaching the issue by using Institutional Rational Choice (IRC) theory could provide a more consistent basis for discussion. But here the problem seems to be the lack of empirical grounding of the theory.

This article is an attempt to bring the discussions a step further at two levels. At the empirical level, it provides some quasi-experimental empirical results from the author’s own research in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, West Africa, in support of the theoretical hypothesis that community-based institutional arrangements are more cost-effective than centralized types of arrangement for sustainable provision and production of common pool goods and services.

At the methodological level, it suggests a methodological solution to some of the major challenges in making IRC-analysis operational in a quasi-experimental sense.

Key words: community participation, natural resource management, institutional rational choice, Mauritania.

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