Clarifying the degree and type of public good collective action problem posed by natural resource management challenges.
Increasingly, scholars have sought to understand the role of collective action across property boundaries to address natural resource management challenges. Although the growing focus on collective action for natural resource management has led to many new and potentially useful insights for governance and outreach, we suggest that researchers and practitioners may benefit from taking a step back to think about the degree and type of collective action that is needed for each particular social-ecological context. We use the examples of invasive species management, fire management, and habitat conservation to argue that categorizing certain natural resource management challenges by the degree and type of public good collective action problem (i.e., continuous and step level) they create can provide insight into effective policy and management solutions for each problem. In so doing, we build on experimental psychology and economics research that suggests that outreach and governance solutions that work for one type of public good collective action problem may be less effective for addressing another type of problem that does not require collective action. We conclude by arguing for more studies examining: (1) how aspects of the social and ecological context determine the degree and type of public good collective action problem posed by natural resource management challenges, and (2) how the drivers of land manager decision making and the resulting effective governance solutions vary by the type and degree of public good collective action problem.