Multi-level governance for large marine commons: Politics and polycentricity in Palau's protected area network


Journal Article

This paper brings together institutional theories of polycentricity and critical human geography theory on scalar politics to advance understanding of the form and function of nested, polycentric regimes for the governance of large-scale common pool resources. We focus on institutional changes associated with a national marine protected area network in Palau through which national government and NGOs gain influence in local decision-making processes. Influence is gained through an attempt to scale up common-pool resource governance to an ecologically-relevant spatial scale in an effort to protect coral reef resilience and biodiversity across Palau. An institutional approach informed by scalar politics brings into focus potential tradeoffs between organizing governance reform around ecologically versus institutionally relevant scales. Our analysis suggests that prioritization of ecologically-relevant scales in institutional reform resulted in nested but less polycentric institutional arrangements governing the network. We conclude that less distributed decision-making in the overall nested governance system could threaten the sustainability and resilience of coral reefs in the long-term by constraining institutional innovation and diversity. Results demonstrate the potential for interdisciplinary dialog to advance the research frontier on multi-level governance for large common pool resources. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Gruby, RL; Basurto, X

Published Date

  • November 1, 2013

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 33 /

Start / End Page

  • 260 - 272

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1873-6416

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1462-9011

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.envsci.2013.06.006

Citation Source

  • Scopus