“Perverse conservation outcomes of rewards-based interventions”

August 9, 2017

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Published in 2017

Arun Agrawal visited UASM

On June 24th, professor and researcher of Michigan University and editor-in-Chief of the World Development and Coordinator of the International Forestry Resources and Institutions (IFRI), Arun Agrawal, visited Universidad de los Andes School of Management to share his experience with faculty members. This, in an effort of the faculty of generating knowledge, strengthening good relations between colleagues and developing new trends in the different research areas of management.

During professor's Agrawal stay he showed the results of his investigation: "Perverse Conservation Outcomes of Rewards-Based Interventions: Watershed Management in the Indian Himalaya".

The study explained how "different kinds of incentives change people's motivations, their behaviors, and relation with conservation and the actual impact on environmental conservation".

The research group interviewed and studied approximately 2200 householders, in 30 villages in 10 Panchayats (basic units of local administration in India) in the north of the country. In the investigation some of the people were given information about the importance of the environmental conservation (with flyers, with face to face meetings, etc); others received individual rewards (chickens, seeds, fertilizers, etc.) and some others received community goods (irrigation channels, etc.).

According to the results, 5% of the people change their motivation from environmental to economic motivation. Professor Agrawal considered that "the effect of both, the individual incentives and the information sharing, are not very positive. In the other hand the effects of the collective incentive were very positive in comparison with the other two (individual incentives and information sharing)" which had a small increase of the environmental motivation.

Professor Agrawal also noticed that the forest areas in the treated Panchayats decreased, compared with the control Panchayats. "It's important to look at the negative effects of rewards for environmental protection and pro-social kind of behavior and actions."

He explains that despite any particular research can't be generalize to different contexts, the results of the investigation can be this: "is important to know that the findings that we had from my research is related to a large body of other experimental evidence, suggesting that when you are providing rewards to people to undertaking pro-social and environmental task the results are more positive if people are engaged in those activities."

Professor Agrawal also came to the country to attend the International Congress for Conservation Biology (ICCB) held this year in Cartagena. The expert in politics of international development, institutional change and environmental conservation participated and shared his research results with experts from all around the world who attended to the Congress.

Agrawal is very hopeful "that some of the most recent works been carried out in conservation biology, protection of nature and natural resources will be presented in the Cartagena meeting and would find the resonance in the Colombian entities so it can influence the policy making in the country and around the world."

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