Studying social networks for environmental conservation

Studying the role of social networks on competitive conservation tenders

Conservation auctions are used to allocate environmental projects to willing landholders – usually farmers – through a competitive bidding process.

These farmers are strongly influenced by their social networks when making decisions about participation in conservation programs, including auctions.

However, the main conservation auction programs have failed to consider the influences of these networks. The fact that social networks are important in this context has been acknowledged by some commentators but there has been no systematic study of their influences on bidding behaviour and the consequent performance of conservation auctions.

As a result, conservation agencies have little knowledge of how to utilise these networks to make conservation programs more attractive and efficient.

This project will address this knowledge gap by exploring the influence of various social network structures on the performances of conservation auction designs.

You will use economic experiments to test the role of networks. In laboratory experiments, participants respond to incentives to achieve monetary outcomes.

Economic experiments can take into account the cognitive limitations of human beings and provide indications of real life behaviour of the bidders.

The importance of experimental economic techniques is recognised in its contribution to the understanding of economic theory and practice. In recent times two Nobel prizes have been awarded to academics developing (Smith) and applying (Ostrom) experimental economic methods.

For more background information, see the suggested readings below.

Research team leader: Associate Professor Md. Sayed Iftekhar

I am an environmental and resource economist with broad interests in the interactions between human and nature. Currently my research interests include urban water management, behavioural biases in regulators, environmental service payments and social networks. I use different economic tools such as agent-based modelling, laboratory experiments and simulations to study these issues.

PhD opportunities

Interested in becoming part of this project? Complete the following steps to submit your expression of interest:

Step 1 - Check criteria

General UWA PhD entrance requirements can be found on the Future Students website.

Step 2 - Submit enquiry to research team leader

Step 3 - Lodge application

After you have discussed your project with the research team leader, you should be in a position to proceed to the next step of the UWA application process: Lodge an applicationDifferent application procedures apply to domestic and international students.


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