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No sense of ownership in weak participation: a forest conservation experiment in Tanzania

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2018

Øyvind Nystad Handberg*
School of Economics and Business, Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), Ås, Norway
*Corresponding author. E-mail:


Sense of ownership is often advocated as an argument for local participation within the epistemic development and nature conservation communities. Stakeholder participation in initiating, designing or implementing institutions is claimed to establish a sense of ownership among the stakeholders and subsequently improve the intended outcomes of the given institution. Theoretical and empirical justifications of the hypothesis remain scarce. A better understanding of the effects of local participation can motivate more extensive and stronger participation of local stakeholders and improve institutional performance. This paper applies theories from psychology and behavioral economics to sense of ownership. The empirical investigation is a framed field experiment in the context of tropical forest conservation and payments for environmental services in Tanzania. The results lend little support to the hypothesis in this context. The participation treatment in the experiment is weak, and a possible explanation is that sense of ownership is sensitive to the participation form.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2018 

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