Seminar

Katarzyna Cieslik: The Role of ICTs in Collective Management of Public Bads

Collective management of shared resources by multiple stakeholders has recently sparked considerable interest in academic circles across the disciplines. Following the ground-breaking work of Elinor Ostrom, a number of researchers studied the formal and informal arrangements that allow groups of stakeholders to sustainably manage public and/or common goods/bads.

Organised by Knowledge Technology and Innovation
Date

Tue 8 January 2019 12:30 to 13:30

Venue Leeuwenborch, building number 201
Hollandseweg 1
201
6706 KN Wageningen
0317-483639
Room 3011

The Case of Potato Blight in Ethiopia

Collective management of shared resources by multiple stakeholders has recently sparked considerable interest in academic circles across the disciplines. Following the ground-breaking work of Elinor Ostrom, a number of researchers studied the formal and informal arrangements that allow groups of stakeholders to sustainably manage public and/or common goods/bads.
 
Among these, special attention has been given to  collective action problems, i.e. collaboration deficits that arise as a result of relatively high individual costs of contribution to the management of the shared resource with marginal individual benefits and high uncertainty/imperfect information. Interestingly, it is the ability of groups of stakeholders to install and effectively maintain peer-to-peer information flows (monitoring) and personalized communication channels (communication) that Ostrom found to be of paramount importance for effective management of the commons.
 
It is the aim of this research project to investigate the role of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in overcoming the challenges of integrating heterogeneous actors in collective management of shared resources (here: public bads). The study draws on a comprehensive research project: Environmental Virtual Observatories for Connective Action (EVOCA). In this research, we develop a framed field experiment (participant pool of context-specific stakeholders, abstract framing, imposed set of rules, field context in the commodity, task, stakes, and information set) to model the decision making process of potato farmers in Ethiopia in the face of the collective threat of highly infectious potato disease (late blight disease). In our case study area of Wolmera, Oromia, potato farmers suffer from up to 80% productivity loss due to late blight and bacterial wilt disease. Available fungicides can control late blight but need to be applied frequently and in a coordinated manner between neighbouring fields to optimize their preventive effect. In addition for both late blight and bacterial wilt, substantial labour, equipment and materials need to be invested in order to effectively manage the disease.  In our game, real life players (potato farmers) are presented with a collective action dilemma: whether to invest in a joint initiative to manage disease or to suffer productivity loss if the threshold is missed.
 
Our contribution is two-fold. First, our experiment provides a quantitative perspective on the contested topic of ‘ICT-revolution’ and its supposed transforming effect on African agriculture. Second, in contrast to the existing studies of collective behaviour, we are interested in individual choices not to realize a collective gain but to avoid a collective loss. As such, our research contributes to the understanding of risk/uncertainty perception, as well as choices over short term/ long term gain/loss. 
 
Katarzyna Cieslik, Francesco Cecchi, Elias Assefa, Shiferaw Tafesse, Berga Lemaga, Cees Leeuwis, Paul Struik