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Managing the Commons: How Extension Facilitates Local Participation to Manage Natural Resources


  • Bidisha Mandal
  • Timothy Lawrence


Extension promotes volunteerism and facilitates community involvement in the informed decision-making process required for managing natural resources; Extension also enhances local social capital. This important role does not receive as much attention in the literature on Extension and its scope as does its traditional role of information provision. We conducted a study to examine the need and demand for Extension programs in a rural community comprised entirely of islands and tangibly dependent on natural resources. We found that affiliation with Extension has a strong impact on the willingness to pay for Extension programs. Thus, we provide evidence that supports the argument that Extension is an important service and an appropriate use of public funds for economic development. This finding is in line with Elinor Ostrom’s theory in new institutional economics that well-designed, robust local entities that stimulate local participation can assist in managing natural resources.

Suggested Citation

  • Bidisha Mandal & Timothy Lawrence, 2017. "Managing the Commons: How Extension Facilitates Local Participation to Manage Natural Resources," Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 39(3), pages 499-515.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:apecpp:v:39:y:2017:i:3:p:499-515.

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Peter Earl & Jason Potts, 2011. "A Nobel Prize for Governance and Institutions: Oliver Williamson and Elinor Ostrom," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(1), pages 1-24.
    2. Carpenter, Jeffrey & Myers, Caitlin Knowles, 2010. "Why volunteer? Evidence on the role of altruism, image, and incentives," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(11-12), pages 911-920, December.
    3. Brian Roe & Timothy C. Haab & Brent Sohngen, 2004. "The Value of Agricultural Economics Extension Programming: An Application of Contingent Valuation," Review of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 26(3), pages 373-390.
    4. Freeman, Richard B, 1997. "Working for Nothing: The Supply of Volunteer Labor," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages 140-166, January.
    5. Lilley, Andrew & Slonim, Robert, 2014. "The price of warm glow," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 58-74.
    6. Wang, Sun Ling, 2014. "Cooperative Extension System: Trends and Economic Impacts on U.S. Agriculture," Choices: The Magazine of Food, Farm, and Resource Issues, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 29(1), pages 1-8.
    7. Linardi, Sera & McConnell, Margaret A., 2011. "No excuses for good behavior: Volunteering and the social environment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(5-6), pages 445-454, June.
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    9. Kalambokidis, Laura, 2003. "Identifying The Public Value In Extension Programs," Staff Papers 13409, University of Minnesota, Department of Applied Economics.
    10. Green, Gary Paul, 2001. "Amenities and Community Economic Development: Strategies for Sustainability," Journal of Regional Analysis and Policy, Mid-Continent Regional Science Association, vol. 31(2), pages 1-15.
    11. Clifford, William B. & Hoban, Thomas J. & Whitehead, John C., 2001. "Willingness To Pay For Agricultural Research And Extension Programs," Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Southern Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 33(1), pages 1-11, April.
    12. McConnell, K. E., 1990. "Models for referendum data: The structure of discrete choice models for contingent valuation," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 19-34, January.
    13. McDowell, George R., 1988. "Land-Grant Colleges of Agriculture: Renegotiating or Abandoning a Social Contract," Choices: The Magazine of Food, Farm, and Resource Issues, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 3(2), pages 1-4.
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    More about this item


    Extension; willingness to pay; public support; volunteers; natural resources;

    JEL classification:

    • H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods
    • H7 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics


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