The emergence and evolution of collective action: Lessons from watershed management in Haiti

T. Anderson White, C. Ford Runge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


The practice and theory of collective action is constrained by a dearth of rigorous empirical tests of why and how such institutions emerge and evolve, and under what conditions they can be successful. Empirical analyses of cooperative watershed management in Haiti reveal that, given a conducive environment and political leadership, groups will emerge and survive where a "critical mass" of individuals have practical knowledge of the potential gains from action. Emergence can be constrained in the short run by: 1. (a)landscape factors that affect the potential net economic gain, and 2. (b)sociocultural factors that affect the cost of constructing the new institution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1683-1698
Number of pages16
JournalWorld Development
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1995

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
* We would first like to express our gratitude to the peasants of Maissade for their cooperation with the study and to the field staff of Save the Children who assisted in dara collection. We thank Hans M. Gregersen and Allen L. Lundgren of the University of Minnesota for their contributions to the research and for their comments on this paper. We also appreciate the financial support of the Inter-American Foundation, which provided funding for the field research, and the USAID, Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Training Project. We also appreciate the comments of Norman Uphoff and three anonymous reviewers. Final rev,-sion accepted: April 27, 1995.


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