Human Ecology

, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 193–211 | Cite as

Scale Dependency and the “Marginal” Value of Labor

  • Marius Warg NæssEmail author
  • Per Fauchald
  • Torkild Tveraa


While there is a general assumption that labor has a positive effect on pastoral production, studies that have tried to quantify this relationship have found no effects. This is most likely because these studies have been looking for effects only at the household level of social organization, although it is well documented that nomadic pastoralist households share and exchange labor in so-called cooperative herding groups. This study investigates possible labor related effects on production among Saami reindeer herders in northern Norway and whether these effects are scale dependent. Contrary to previous studies, we found both a general effect of labor on Saami reindeer husbandry production and the presence of a scale dependent effect, i.e., the more robust results were found on the level of social organization where cooperative herding is undertaken.


Nomadic pastoralism Saami reindeer husbandry Production Household Cooperative herding groups Quantitative approach Norway 



This study is part of the Ecosystem Finnmark project and was funded by the Research Council of Norway (the FRIMUF program). We thank the Norwegian Reindeer Administration for providing the data that this study is based on, and the area reindeer husbandry administrations in Kautokeino and Karasjok for providing additional information. Valuable comments from and discussion with Bård-Jørgen Bårdsen and Rolf A. Ims have improved this manuscript. We also thank two anonymous reviewers whose comments helped to improve the quality of the paper. Further, we would also like to thank David G. Anderson and Bjørn Bjerkli.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marius Warg Næss
    • 1
    Email author
  • Per Fauchald
    • 2
    • 3
  • Torkild Tveraa
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Social AnthropologyUniversity of TromsøTromsøNorway
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUniversity of Tromsø (UIT)TromsøNorway
  3. 3.Division of Arctic Ecology, Polar Environmental CentreNorwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA)TromsøNorway

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