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Institutions, Transaction Costs and Environmental Policy

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Institutions, Transaction Costs and Environmental Policy

Institutional Reform for Water Resources

9781840642506 Edward Elgar Publishing
Ray Challen, Associate Director, The Allen Consulting Group, Perth, Australia
Publication Date: 2000 ISBN: 978 1 84064 250 6 Extent: 256 pp
Ray Challen introduces and develops a model for the analysis of the problems involved in institutional choice that takes into account constraints in institutional change imposed by history and the value of maintaining options in an uncertain future. The emphasis of institutional analysis shifts from assessing the benefits of particular property rights regimes in isolation to considering the distribution of property rights between levels of governments, communities and individuals in an institutional hierarchy. Conceptual developments in institutional theory are illustrated by using a case study of institutional change in the regulation of water use in irrigated agriculture.

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Contents
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Conventional economic analysis of property rights in natural resources is too narrow and restrictive to allow for effective comparisons between alternative institutional structures. In this book, a conceptual framework is developed for the analysis of these structures with illustrative application to the allocation of water resources.

Ray Challen introduces and develops a model for the analysis of the problems involved in institutional choice that takes into account constraints in institutional change imposed by history and the value of maintaining options in an uncertain future. The emphasis of institutional analysis shifts from assessing the benefits of particular property rights regimes in isolation to considering the distribution of property rights between levels of governments, communities and individuals in an institutional hierarchy. Conceptual developments in institutional theory are illustrated by using a case study of institutional change in the regulation of water use in irrigated agriculture.
Critical Acclaim
‘This book will be of particular benefit to those with an interest in the application of new institutional economics to natural resource management . . . the conceptual model developed in the book provides a useful framework for analysing general issues associated with institutional analysis and choice . . . the book offers readers a valuable insight into the application of transaction cost analysis to understand institutions.’
– Lin Crase, Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics

‘. . . this book provides an interesting insight into the institutional framework for natural resource allocation.’
– Liu Gang, Economic Record

‘Challen has written an outstanding book.’
– Dieter Hecht, European Review of Agricultural Economics

‘This is an excellent piece of work, applying the economic theory of property rights and transaction costs to the complex policy problems associated with water use in irrigation. Challen examines the determination of transaction costs and the way they interact with a realistic specification of property rights. He thereby avoids the two main defects found in much work in this area: first, the use of a simplistic division of property rights schemes, for example one based on polar categories of private property and common property, defined to mean open access, and second, a tendency to use the category of transaction costs as an unexamined “black box”.’
– John Quiggin, James Cook University, Australia

‘A most encouraging trend in economics concerns the careful and non-teleological study of institutions. From an era in which institutions were completely ignored, through an era in which it was thought that institutions were mere constraints on otherwise beneficent behavior in markets, through an era in which it was thought that the purpose of institutions was to promote economic efficiency, we now seem to be firmly in an era in which it is understood that institutions are the very bedrock of economic and social interaction. The analysis of institutions will fall into incoherence if we insist on seeing them as teleological rather than as instrumental. Once there, we must still understand the purposes that different individuals and collectivities ascribe to particular institutional set ups. In this careful book Ray Challen offers clear conceptual guidance to the study of economic institutions. He also shows us how one can undertake the analysis of institutional choice. The problem setting is water resources in eastern Australia. The lessons are profoundly international, and the approach is refreshingly promising.’
– Daniel W. Bromley, University of Wisconsin-Madison, US
Contents
Contents: Preface and Acknowledgements 1. Introduction 2. Institutions and Use of Natural Resources 3. Institutions of Water Use for Irrigation in the Murray–Darling Basin 4. Static Transaction Costs in Allocation of Water Resources 5. Transaction Costs and Institutional Change 6. Dynamic Transaction Costs and Option Values in Institutional Change 7. Policy Analysis for Institutional Change 8. Conclusions References Index
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