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Social-Ecological Systems Meta-Analysis Database: Theory

Parametric management

Variable relationship:

Acheson and Wilson (1996) discuss an approach to fisheries management that they term the “parametric approach,” which can be viewed as an inverse approach to “numeric management.” They state that "People in fishing communities in tribal and peasant areas develop and support rules affecting how fishing is done, because such rules are based on the knowledge they have about the resource and because they believe the rules are in their own best interests."

This argument rests on the idea that, given high levels of local and traditional knowledge (Actor Traditional Knowledge; Governance Knowledge Use) of the target system, input-based rules governing extraction methods (Policy Instrument) are more adaptable than rules dictating extraction amounts, and can effectively preserve the commons (Commons Condition Trend). This argument also assumes that such rules are enforced and complied with (Self Monitoring; Self Sanctions; Compliance).


Scientific Field
Component Type(s)
Natural Resource Unit, Natural Resource System


VariableRoleRole ExplanationValue
Policy instrumentProximate independent variableInstitutions that are input-based rather than output based will be better able to automatically adapt changing resource conditions and high levels of uncertainty regarding the condition of the commons.Input-based standards (includes technological and temporal standards)
Governance knowledge useProximate independent variableParametric management emphasizes the use of local and traditional knowledge of resource user groups.Local/traditional knowledge
Self SanctionsModerating independent variableSanctioning of rule-breaking is needed to ensure compliance with parametric rules.Yes
Self monitoringModerating independent variableMonitoring for fractions is important to ensure that parametric rules are complied withYes
Transaction costsModerating independent variableEnforcement is much more effective if it is done in a way that keeps transaction costs low.Low
Actor traditional knowledgeModerating independent variableIn order to specify input-based rules that are appropriate to the ecological situation and context, a fair amount of local traditional knowledge is needed.High
ComplianceModerating independent variableRules must be complied with if they are to be effective in sustaining the commons.Yes
Commons condition trendFinal outcomeIf rules are made to adapt to changes in commons scarcity or abundance, then this should help preserve the commons in the long run.Remained the same or Improved

Related Theories

TheoryRelationshipCharacterizing Variables
Political decentralization and fitrelated
Community-based natural resource management (CBNRM)related
Failure of centralized controlrelated
Technical solutions and shifting the burdenrelated

Related Studies


Acheson, James M, and James A Wilson. 1996. “Order out of Chaos: The Case for Parametric Fisheries Management.” American Anthropologist 98 (3): 1594–1996.