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Title: The Coercive Laws of Competition in a Neoliberal Era: The case of Forestry in Costa Rica
Authors: Matulis, Brett S.
First Published: Jun-2016
Publisher: University of Arizona
Citation: Journal of Political Ecology, 2016, 23, pp. 279-295
Abstract: Market-oriented forms of conservation are believed to deliver enhanced efficiency in ecosystem management. This greater efficiency is derived from the introduction of competitive mechanisms in resource governance. Market competition, however, produces new social relations that can alter the division of benefits between various actors within the economy and present opportunities for accumulation. The consequent gains in efficiency are not necessarily equitably distributed. Furthermore, the introduction of competition can erode cooperative arrangements designed to assist the poor and politically marginal. Drawing on theories of the 'coercive laws of competition', I seek in this article to understand how competitive structures compel actors to behave in ways that put profit before social or environmental responsibility and encourage self-interested behavior. I explore these ideas in the context of Costa Rican forest conservation, showing that competitive contracting in private forest management has resulted in an uneven distribution of benefits and a comparative advantage for larger landowners. In addition, I also re-think the 'coercive laws' for a neoliberal era.
ISSN: 1073-0451
Version: Publisher Version
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © the authors, 2016. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, Dept. of Geography

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