Environmental Management

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 175–184 | Cite as

Socially cooperative choices: An approach to achieving resource sustainability in the coastal zone

  • Colin Crance
  • Dianne Draper


Achieving resource sustainability, particularly in the coastal zone, is complicated by a variety of interdependencies and trade-offs between economic, social, and ecological variables. Although trade-offs between each of these variables are important, this paper emphasizes the social components of resource management. In this regard a distinction is made between individual and cooperative choices. Individual choices frequently are made from a shortterm, self-interested perspective, whereas cooperative choices are made from a long-term, community and resource-sustainability perspective. Typically, when presented with a spectrum of resource management decisions, individuals have a tendency to act in a self-interested manner. Thus, cooperative benefits, such as reduced conflict and improved resource certainty, are not realized. An overview of selected aspects of social dilemma theory suggests that socially cooperative choice outcomes are attainable in coastal zone management by integrating structural and behavioral solutions in resource use decision making. Three barriers to successful integration of structural and behavioral solutions are identified as self-interest, mistrust, and variable perceptions of resource amenities. Examples from coastal zone management indicate that these barriers may be overcome using approaches such as scopereduction, co-management, community education, and local participation. The paper also provides comment on the potential benefits of integrating structural and behavioral solutions in international coastal zone management efforts.

Key words

Behavioral solutions Cooperation Integration Mistrust Self-interest Social dilemmas 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Colin Crance
    • 1
  • Dianne Draper
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of GeographyWilfrid Laurier UniversityWaterlooCanada
  2. 2.Department of GeographyThe University of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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