The recent crisis in global financial markets has brought into question reliance on markets to determine the conduct of economic affairs and generated pressure for greater regulation and government control. Neither a neoliberal nor a neoregulatory approach is likely to be able to solve pressing problems affecting agriculture and natural resources, such as a deterioration in environmental quality and the challenge of climate change. To find solutions we need to employ a more realistic behavioural model than that typically used in economic analysis, and to recognise the key role played by values in individual and collective decision making. A more devolved approach to policy formation based on collective action seems to offer the greatest chance of success. More effort needs to be directed to understanding the drivers and processes of collective decision making, and how it can be harnessed to address pressing policy issues.