Understanding the effects of institutional diversity on irrigation systems dynamics

Hoon C. Shin, Sechindra Vallury, Joshua K. Abbott, John M. Anderies, David J. Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Comparative institutional analyses of social-ecological systems (SESs) have advanced our understanding of features and performances of single institutions such as state, market, and self-organized institutions. However, such studies have hardly extended our understanding of institutional diversity to combinations of different institutions and their joint impacts on the dynamics of SES. We address this gap by focusing on government-managed irrigation systems as a quintessential example of SESs. We developed a formal stylized model to examine how institutions affect social processes in a government-managed irrigation system. More specifically, we examine how infrastructure dynamics and farmers-agency interactions are affected under the coexistence of two institutions: groundwater market and participatory institutions. The former institutionalizes the use of private irrigation infrastructures as an exit option to the public infrastructure managed by a government agency (exit). The latter institutionalizes farmers' voicing of concerns and participation as a pressure mechanism on the agency (voice). The model results show that the joint effects of those institutions on system outcomes vary with the agency's reactions to the exit and voice. We also demonstrate that the silence option – use of neither option – is a double-edged sword. Silent farmers can impede infrastructure improvement, but in some cases, help it dramatically.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107221
JournalEcological Economics
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • Competition
  • Institutional diversity
  • Irrigation
  • Participation
  • Resilience
  • Social-ecological systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Economics and Econometrics


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