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Decision Making in a Human Population Living Sustainably

Authors

  • JOHN S. HICKS,

    1. Australian Centre of Excellence for Risk Analysis, School of Botany, University of Melbourne, Parkville 3010, Australia
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  • MARK A. BURGMAN,

    Corresponding author
    1. Australian Centre of Excellence for Risk Analysis, School of Botany, University of Melbourne, Parkville 3010, Australia
      M. A. Burgman, email markab@unimelb.edu.au
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  • JULIAN N. MAREWSKI,

    1. Center for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, Germany
    2. Faculty of Business and Economics, Department of Organizational Behavior, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland
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  • FIONA FIDLER,

    1. Australian Centre of Excellence for Risk Analysis, School of Botany, University of Melbourne, Parkville 3010, Australia
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  • GERD GIGERENZER

    1. Center for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, Germany
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M. A. Burgman, email markab@unimelb.edu.au

Abstract

Abstract:  The Tiwi people of northern Australia have managed natural resources continuously for 6000–8000 years. Tiwi management objectives and outcomes may reflect how they gather information about the environment. We qualitatively analyzed Tiwi documents and management techniques to examine the relation between the social and physical environment of decision makers and their decision-making strategies. We hypothesized that principles of bounded rationality, namely, the use of efficient rules to navigate complex decision problems, explain how Tiwi managers use simple decision strategies (i.e., heuristics) to make robust decisions. Tiwi natural resource managers reduced complexity in decision making through a process that gathers incomplete and uncertain information to quickly guide decisions toward effective outcomes. They used management feedback to validate decisions through an information loop that resulted in long-term sustainability of environmental use. We examined the Tiwi decision-making processes relative to management of barramundi (Lates calcarifer) fisheries and contrasted their management with the state government's management of barramundi. Decisions that enhanced the status of individual people and their attainment of aspiration levels resulted in reliable resource availability for Tiwi consumers. Different decision processes adopted by the state for management of barramundi may not secure similarly sustainable outcomes.

Abstract

Resumen:  Los Tiwi del norte de Australia han manejado sus recursos naturales continuamente durante 6000–8000 años. Los objetivos y resultados del manejo Tiwi pueden reflejar como obtienen información acerca del ambiente. Analizamos cualitativamente el ambiente social y físico de los tomadores de decisiones y de sus estrategias de toma de decisiones. Partimos de la hipótesis de que los principios de la racionalidad limitada, particularmente el uso de reglas eficientes para resolver problemas de decisión complejos, explican como los manejadores Tiwi utilizan estrategias de decisión simples (i. e., heurísticos) para tomar decisiones robustas. Los manejadores Tiwi de recursos naturales redujeron la complejidad de la toma de decisiones mediante un proceso que recopila información incompleta e incierta para guiar decisiones rápidamente hacia resultados efectivos. Utilizaron retroalimentación de manejo para validar las decisiones mediante una espiral de información que resultó en la sustentabilidad a largo plazo del uso ambiental. Examinamos los procesos de toma de decisiones de Tiwi en relación con el manejo de pesquerías de barramundi (Lates calcarifer) y lo contrastamos con el manejo de la agencia gubernamental. Las decisiones que resaltaron el estatus de individuos y el logro de sus niveles de aspiración resultaron una fuente confiable de disponibilidad para consumidores Tiwi. Es posible que los procesos de decisión diferentes adoptados por el estado para el manejo de barramundi no aseguren resultados sustentables similares.

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