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Personal norms of sustainability and their impact on management – The case of rangeland management in semi-arid regions

  • Roland Olbrich

    ()

    (Department of Sustainability Sciences and Department of Economics, Leuphana University of Lueneburg, Germany)

  • Martin F. Quaas

    (Department of Economics, University of Kiel, Germany)

  • Stefan Baumgaertner

    (Department of Sustainability Sciences and Department of Economics, Leuphana University of Lueneburg, Germany)

We empirically study personal norms of sustainability, conceptualized according to the normactivation theory and operationalized under the notion of strong ecological-economic sustainability, for commercial cattle farmers in semi-arid rangelands of Namibia, a system that is subject to extensive degradation. We characterize farmers’ personal norms, study their determinants, and analyze their impact on actual management based on the dual-preferences model. We find personal norms of sustainability that are heterogeneous across farmers, but vary little with socio-demographic or environmental characteristics. We find no evidence for a significant impact of personal norms on actual management behavior, which may be due to farmers not feeling capable for averting adverse long-term consequences of their management. This may contribute to the observed degradation of rangelands in Namibia.

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Paper provided by University of Lüneburg, Institute of Economics in its series Working Paper Series in Economics with number 209.

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Length: 46 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:lue:wpaper:209
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://leuphana.de/institute/ivwl.html

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  1. Andrew Postlewaite, 2010. "Social Norms and Preferences, Chapter for the Handbook for Social Economics, Edited by J. Benhabib, A. Bisin and M. Jackson," PIER Working Paper Archive 10-031, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  2. Roland Olbrich & Martin F. Quaas & Stefan Baumgärtner, 2009. "Sustainable use of ecosystem services under multiple risks – a survey of commercial cattle farmers in semi-arid rangelands in Namibia," Working Paper Series in Economics 137, University of Lüneburg, Institute of Economics.
  3. Howarth, Richard B., 2007. "Towards an operational sustainability criterion," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(4), pages 656-663, September.
  4. Andrew Postlewaite, 2010. "Social Norms and Preferences," PIER Working Paper Archive 10-019, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  5. Quaas, Martin F. & Baumgartner, Stefan & Becker, Christian & Frank, Karin & Muller, Birgit, 2007. "Uncertainty and sustainability in the management of rangelands," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 251-266, April.
  6. H. Peyton Young, 2007. "Social Norms," Economics Series Working Papers 307, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  7. Kjell Arne Brekke & Snorre Kverndokk & Karinen Nyborg, 2000. "An Economic Model of Moral Motivation," Discussion Papers 290, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
  8. Ekins, Paul & Simon, Sandrine & Deutsch, Lisa & Folke, Carl & De Groot, Rudolf, 2003. "A framework for the practical application of the concepts of critical natural capital and strong sustainability," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(2-3), pages 165-185, March.
  9. Baumgärtner, Stefan & Quaas, Martin F., 2009. "Ecological-economic viability as a criterion of strong sustainability under uncertainty," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(7), pages 2008-2020, May.
  10. Pezzey, John C V & Withagen, Cees A, 1998. " The Rise, Fall and Sustainability of Capital-Resource Economies," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 100(2), pages 513-27, June.
  11. Kjell Arne Brekke & Gorm Kipperberg & Karine Nyborg, 2010. "Social Interaction in Responsibility Ascription: The Case of Household Recycling," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 86(4), pages 766-784.
  12. Pearce, David W. & Atkinson, Giles D., 1993. "Capital theory and the measurement of sustainable development: an indicator of "weak" sustainability," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 103-108, October.
  13. Ek, Kristina & Söderholm, Patrik, 2008. "Norms and economic motivation in the Swedish green electricity market," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1-2), pages 169-182, December.
  14. Thogersen, John, 1999. "Spillover processes in the development of a sustainable consumption pattern," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 53-81, February.
  15. Roland Olbrich & Martin F. Quaas & Stefan Baumgaertner, 2012. "Characterizing commercial cattle farms in Namibia: risk, management and sustainability," Working Paper Series in Economics 248, University of Lüneburg, Institute of Economics.
  16. Elster, Jon, 1989. "Social Norms and Economic Theory," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 99-117, Fall.
  17. Martin F. Quaas & Stefan Baumgärtner, 2011. "Optimal grazing management rules in semi-arid rangelands with uncertain rainfall," Working Paper Series in Economics 193, University of Lüneburg, Institute of Economics.
  18. Conlin, Michael & Lynn, Michael & O'Donoghue, Ted, 2003. "The norm of restaurant tipping," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 297-321, November.
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