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Policy choice framework: guiding policy makers in changing farmer behavior

Geoff Kaine, Geoff Kaine Research
Justine Young, Waikato Regional Council
Ruth Lourey, Waikato Regional Council
Suzie Greenhalgh, Landcare Research NZ


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There is a substantial literature on the characteristics of policy instruments. Unfortunately, there is an unhelpful degree of overlap in the strengths and weaknesses of different instruments. As a consequence, rarely is it the case that one particular instrument is obviously superior to all others. Policy makers must then make choices about which instrument(s) to use. The economics discipline can provide some insights for instrument choice through its exploration of market failures related to natural resource management. Few attempts, however, have been made to encapsulate these economic concepts in way to that could aid policy makers in these choices and ensure that policy instrument choice aligns with the fundamental cause of the behavior to be changed. We describe and provide example applications of the policy choice framework (PCF). The PCF was developed to assist policy makers to deliberately and systematically choose policy instruments to influence the behavior of farmers. The PCF is unique among methods for choosing policy instruments because it links the microeconomic reasons underpinning the choice of a primary policy instrument (stage one) with predictions of the behavior of farmers (stage two) and predictions about the organizational needs of agencies responsible for implementing policy (stage three). We describe the PCF using two applications: wild dog management and the control of agricultural nitrogen discharges. Our purpose was to show how the PCF could be employed to assist in policy instrument selection. We then discuss the implications for policy design and instrument choice.

Key words

adoption; compliance; natural resource management; policy implementation; policy instrument choice; water quality; wild dogs

Copyright © 2017 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