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Baur, Ivo; Liechti, Karina; Binder, Claudia Rebecca (2014): Why do individuals behave differently in commons dilemmas? The case of alpine farmers using common property pastures in Grindelwald, Switzerland. In: International Journal of The Commons, Vol. 8, No. 2: pp. 657-685


The sustainable use of common-pool resources depends on users' behaviour with regards to appropriation and provision. Most knowledge about behaviour in such situations comes from experimental research. As experiments take place in confined environments, motivational drivers and actions in the field might differ. This paper analyses farmers' use of common property pastures in Grindelwald, Switzerland. Binary logistic regression is applied to survey data to explore the effect of farmers' attributes on livestock endowment, appropriation and provision behaviour. Furthermore, Q methodology is used to assess the impact of broader contextual variables on the sustainability of common property pastures. It is shown that the strongest associations exist between (a) socio-economic attributes and change in livestock endowment;(b) norms and appropriation behaviour;and (c) area and pay-off and provision behaviour. Relevant contextual variables are the economic value of the resource units, off-farm income opportunities, and the subsidy structure. We conclude that with increasing farm size farmers reduce the use and maintenance of common property. Additionally, we postulate that readiness to maintain a resource increases with appropriation activities and the net returns generated from appropriation.