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The Goldilocks Solution: Exploring the Relationship between Trust and Participation in Resource Management within the New Zealand Commercial Rock Lobster Fishery


  • The authors would like to thank Daryl Sykes (New Zealand Rock Lobster Industry Council), Robert O'Reilly (Emory University Libraries Electronic Data Center), and the anonymous survey respondent. This work would not be possible without them.

Tracy Yandle is an Associate Professor of Environmental Studies at Emory University, Atlanta, GA.

Nadya Hajj is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA.

Rafal Raciborski is an econometrician at StataCorp, College Station, TX.


Our understanding of the role natural resource users, and the governing institutions they create, has grown considerably in recent years. At the same time, our understanding of the role of trust in human interactions continues to grow. We use the case of New Zealand rock lobster (jasus edwardsii and Jasus verrauxi) to ask the question “What is the role of trust in an individual's decision to participate in natural resource management institutions?” Using data from a survey of constituents of the commercial rock lobster fishery, our analysis shows an inverted “U” relationship between trust and participation. We suggest that this may be described as a “Goldilocks solution” in which having both too much and too little trust is problematic; but a healthy level of is “just right.” Theoretical and policy implications of these findings and directions for future research are explored.