Analysis of Material, Social, and Moral Enforcement in Natural Resource Management in Southern Namibia

Thomas Falk (University of Marburg/Germany)
Björn Vollan (University of Mannheim/Germany)
Michael Kirk (University of Marburg/Germany)

Abstract: In our research region in southern Namibia ineffective enforcement contributes to natural resource degradation. We analyze the root causes of ineffective enforcement applying diverse methods such as small surveys, economic experiments as well as case studies. Our conceptual framework distinguishes between moral, social, and material enforcement. We analyze water and rangeland management regulations in the research area through the filter of this conceptual framework. We observe that the rural water supply reform is also making considerable progress because an institutional framework has been established which makes efficient use of different enforcement instruments. In contrast, rangeland management is characterized by ambiguous and inconsequent exogenous and endogenous material enforcement and conflicting moral norms. In a next step we apply economic experiments in order to gain additional insights into the characteristics of selected elements of the framework in the context of our case studies. The experiments help us to bridge the gap between abstract concepts and real life observations. We conclude that existing moral and social norms should be considered as starting points for the establishment of formal rules because norms are more costly to establish but cheaper to apply. The rule addressees’ acceptance of external material enforcement influences whether it substitutes or complements more internal enforcement.

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