The evolution of norms and their influence on performance among self-governing irrigation systems in the Southwestern United States Public Deposited

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  • Irrigation is important for global food supply and is vulnerable to cli- mate change. Internalized cultural norms are important for the performance of Common Pool Resource (CPR) regimes such as irrigation systems, but much is unknown about the role of norms in shaping irrigation performance. This paper applies multi-level selection (MLS) theory and CPR theory to a stratified, semi- random sample of 71 irrigation systems of distinct cultural origins in the Upper Rio Grande Basin of the United States to test hypotheses related to the role of norms in irrigation system form and function. Results show that internalized norms of cooperation are strongly associated with the rules and technologies adopted by irrigators, the frequency of water use violations, average crop production, and the equality of crop production. Systems with internalized norms of cooperation have adopted rules and technologies which are associated with increased care for the commons, public goods, and higher equality between irrigators. Further, agents designated as monitors of CPR use have different effects depending on whether irrigators possess cooperative or competitive norms. Notably, the presence of monitors that enforce rules that are incongruent with norms is associated with increased water use violations and lower average crop production. These find- ings add weight to the growing body of work giving greater attention to cultural context when analyzing user-governed CPR regimes and climate resilience, and further illustrate the compatibility of MLS theory with other prevailing theories in CPR research.
Date Issued
  • 2019-04-25
Academic Affiliation
Journal Title
Journal Issue/Number
  • 1
Journal Volume
  • 13
File Extent
  • 1-31
Last Modified
  • 2019-12-05
Resource Type
Rights Statement
  • 1875-0281