Adaptation Under Uncertainty: Application of an Institutional Analysis Framework

Sunday, 15 February 2015
Exhibit Hall (San Jose Convention Center)
Skaidra Smith-Heisters, Decision Center for a Desert City, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
Individuals are motivated to adapt to environmental risks when natural resource dependence, institutional context, and psychosocial factors provide strong incentives. Our qualitative casework explores potential private proactive adaptation to climate change in a primary industry in a context in which we expect biophysical uncertainty and institutional mediation negatively impact individuals' perceptions of risk and motivations to adapt. We propose a model-framework that brings together the Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) framework and the Model of Private Proactive Adaptation to Climate Change (MPPACC) to analyze adaptation under uncertainty in relation to local policy. In this model-framework, the MPPACC provides specific assumptions about biases in individuals' perceptual processes within an institutional context described by the IAD framework. Based on the insights provided by the model-framework into the case of climate risk perception among farmers in irrigated agriculture in central Arizona, we discuss policy-relevant approaches for fieldwork in related contexts of institutionally-constrained decision making under uncertainty. Our findings highlight the importance of interplay between individuals' affective and analytical responses to signals and action-outcome linkages generated within institutional arrangements.