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Network structure and institutional complexity in an ecology of water management games

Mark Lubell, Department of Environmental Science and Policy, University of California Davis, Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior
Garry Robins, University of Melbourne
Peng Wang, University of Melbourne


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Social-ecological systems are governed by a complex of ecology of games featuring multiple actors, policy institutions, and issues, and not just single institutions operating in isolation. We update Long's (1958) ecology of games to analyze the coordinating roles of actors and institutions in the context of the ecology of water management games in San Francisco Bay, California. The ecology of games is operationalized as a bipartite network with actors participating in institutions, and exponential random graph models are used to test hypotheses about the structural features of the network. We found that policy coordination is facilitated mostly by federal and state agencies and collaborative institutions that span geographic boundaries. Network configurations associated with closure show the most significant departures from the predicted model values, consistent with the Berardo and Scholz (2010) "risk hypothesis" that closure is important for solving cooperation problems.

Key words

complex adaptive systems; cooperation; ecology of games; institutions; resilience

Copyright © 2014 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087