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A framework for analyzing institutional gaps in natural resource governance

A framework for analyzing institutional gaps in natural resource governance

Rahman, Tuihedur H. M., Saint Ville, Arlette S., Song, Andrew M., Po, June Y.T. ORCID: 0000-0001-6124-8235, Berthet, Elsa, Brammer, Jeremy R., Brunet, Nicolas D., Jayaprakash, Lingaraj G., Lowitt, Kristen N., Rastogi, Archi, Reed, Graeme and Hickey, Gordon M. (2017) A framework for analyzing institutional gaps in natural resource governance. International Journal of the Commons, 11 (2). pp. 823-853. ISSN 1875-0281 (doi:

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In this paper we present the Inter-Institutional Gap(IIG) Framework as a novel approach to conceptualizing the often-overlooked interconnectivity of different rule-levels between formal and informal institutions in a resource system. This framework goes beyond the existing concepts of legal pluralism, institutional void, structural hole, and cultural mismatch, each of which offer valuable insights to particular gaps between formal and informal institutions, but do not sufficiently address the interaction at every rule level (i.e. constitutional choice, collective choice and operational choice rules). In order to demonstrate the potential of our framework for better understanding the underlying causes of inter-institutional gaps, we apply it to four case studies that encompass diverse geographical locations, governance scales, and social-ecological systems. Results reveal inter-institutional gaps can be created when there are unintended, unforeseen or hidden gaps between different rule hierarchies in two or more simultaneously operating institutions. More specifically we observe that: i) inter-institutional gaps are co-existing, therefore if a certain gap is identified, other gaps may be expected; ii) certain gaps may reveal latent gaps; and iii) intermediaries may be key to addressing inter-institutional gaps. In many cases, sustainable natural resource management and regulation cannot be achieved without directly addressing the inter-institutional gaps that exist between formal and informal institutions operating in the same resource system. The Framework facilitates analysis and understanding of multi-level governance structures in pursuit of addressing complex natural resource management issues.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: governance, natural resources, public policy, rules-in-use, sustainable development, top-down approaches
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Engineering & Science
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute > Livelihoods & Institutions Department
Last Modified: 10 Jan 2020 14:26

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