A multimethod approach to study the governance of social-ecological systems

Marcus Janssen, François Bousquet, Elinor Ostrom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


In this paper, we discuss the lessons learned from a project that combined different types of methods to study the interaction of ecological dynamics, experience of resource users, and institutional arrangements. We combined theoretical computational models, laboratory experiments with undergraduate students in the USA, field experiments and role games with villagers in rural Thailand and Colombia. The expectation at the start of the project was that specific experience with resource management would affect the way participants play the game and the rules they would develop. We found that contextual variables, such as trust in other community members and the feeling of being an accepted member of the community, and also the ecological context had significant explanatory power, more than experience. Another conclusion from using these different methods is the fact that the quality of resource management lies more on the possibility of communication rather than on the types of rules crafted or selected.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)382-394
Number of pages13
JournalNatures Sciences Societes
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2011


  • Colombia
  • Field experiments
  • Fishery
  • Forestry
  • Irrigation
  • Laboratory experiments
  • Role-playing games
  • Thailand

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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