Institutional Framework for Analyzing Sustainability in European Agriculture and Rural Areas

Institutional Framework for Analyzing Sustainability in European Agriculture and Rural Areas

Stefano Pascucci (University of Naples Federico II, Italy & Wageningen University, The Netherlands), Nico Polman (LEI & Wageningen University, The Netherlands) and Louis Slangen (Wageningen University, The Netherlands)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0882-5.ch207
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The aim of this chapter is to develop an institutional framework for analyzing and improving sustainability. More specifically we discuss (i) developing a framework that consists of different institutional levels and a set of indicators for measuring the relevant features of each institutional level; (ii) investigating what are the dimensions of sustainable agriculture and rural development and related suitable indicators; (iii) the relationship between the institutional framework and sustainability; finally (iv) we tried to design better institutions for improving the sustainability in agriculture and rural areas. The chapter also underlines the relevance of looking at sustainability in a more empirical way. It strongly emphasises the necessity to support the theoretical approach with the use of indicators and reference levels. More specifically, the chapter indicates general and more comprehensive typologies of indicators that are commonly used to evaluate sustainability and sustainable development in agriculture and rural areas.
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The Institutional Framework

Figure 1 shows the institutional framework. This Figure is partly based on Williamson (2000: 297), but there are some important differences specific for this Chapter. The main difference between our framework and Williamson’s is that we add a level the ‘incentives structure’ distinguishing between them and the resource allocation decisions. These incentives can be based on rewards or punishment and on intrinsic or extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic or internal motivation is internal to the individual concerned and involves for instance the pleasure one gets from a task itself or from the sense of satisfaction in completing or even working on a task. Extrinsic or external motivation are monetary incentives, a grade for students, career concern, rules (of law), or direct order (as in a hierarchical governance structure). The incentives can continuously be changed, and when taken together with other levels, they are very important for the economic outcomes, but also for sustainability. For that reason we add this level. The third column gives an overview of the theories that are relevant at each institutional level.

Figure 1.

The theoretical framework for structuring human decision-making on sustainable resource uses


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