Which perspective of institutional change best fits empirical data? An agent-based model comparison of rational choice and cultural diffusion in invasive plant management

Abigail Sullivan, Li An, Abigail York

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

There are multiple theories regarding how institutions change over time, but institutional change is often difficult to study and understand in practice. Agent-based modeling is known as a technique to explore emergent phenomena resulting from the micro level activities and interactions between heterogeneous agents and between agents and the environment. Such models allow researchers to investigate theories which may otherwise be difficult to examine. We present a theoretically driven agent-based model to explore two perspectives on institutional change, rational choice and cultural diffusion, in the context of invasive plant management in Chitwan, Nepal. The Chitwan region is grappling with the spread of the invasive mile-a-minute weed, Mikania micrantha (Mikania). We focus on understanding which perspective of institutional change better fits empirical survey data on Mikania management. We find that rational choice is an unlikely candidate for institutional change in Chitwan and that the social learning and imitation mechanism modeled in the cultural diffusion perspective better replicates empirical patterns. Additionally, the model reveals that the percentage of agents adopting the best practice removal method is not as influential in reducing Mikania as the initial amount of Mikania removed. This result indicates that it may be useful to conduct an empirical assessment varying the initial amount of Mikania removed to understand the management implications for successful removal of Mikania in Chitwan and elsewhere.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5
JournalJASSS
Volume21
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

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Plant management
model comparison
institutional change
management
social learning
imitation
Nepal
micro level
best practice
candidacy
interaction

Keywords

  • Agent-based model
  • Collective action
  • Institutions
  • Invasive pest

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences(all)

Cite this

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