Social-ecological fit theory
- Variable relationship:
According to Ostrom (1990), appropriate institutions should be matched with characteristics of the commons, such as spatial and temporal heterogeneity (socio-ecological fit) in order to be effective in promoting resource conservation (Commons Condition Trend). "Some scholars have also identified local conditions as involving the predominant culture, ideology, customs, and livelihood strategies of a community. And others have highlighted the negative consequences that result when externally imposed rules do not match local customs and livelihood strategies" (Cox et al. 2010).
More generally, the socio-ecological fit theory posits that institutions are likely to succeed (or fail) in relation to how institutions are designed for coupled systems of people and nature (Epstein et al. 2015). In other words, the theory implicitly argues that the positive effects of an institution
depend upon the state of one or more contextual attributes. For instance, common property pasture regimes have generally been more successful in highly variable and uncertain rangeland ecosystems than have alternative private property pasture regimes (Epstein et al. 2015).
The theory is also reflected in Oran Young's argument about "fit, scale and interplay". According to Young (2002), institutions should account for key ecosystem links. The more links accounted for by institutions, the greater the potential fit institution–ecosystem fit.
- Scientific Field
- Component Type(s)
- Environmental Common, Governance System
|Proximate independent variable
|Institutions that uncover the spatial scale and heterogeneity and key links of ecosystems are more likely to have expected effects on resource conditions
|Commons condition trend
|Conservation management institutions are designed to maintain or improve resource conditions.
|Remained the Same or Improved
|External recognition and local autonomy
|Failure of centralized control
|Political decentralization and fit
|Decentralization and elite capture
|Community-based natural resource management (CBNRM)
|Decentralization and leakage