Interest-based Negotiation over Natural Resources


Over the last two decades, developing countries have seen a sharp increase in external demand for land and other natural resources. Despite hopes that these outside investments would spur local development, host communities often feel short-changed by these deals, which some describe as ‘land grabs.’ We experimentally study whether an interest-based negotiation (IBN) training for a diverse set of community leaders in Liberia improves their ability to realize beneficial agreements and forego detrimental deals related to their land and forests. In incentivized simulations, we find that trainees are 27% more likely to reach a beneficial agreement, and when they conclude deals, their payoffs are 37% larger. Our mediation analysis and structural estimates both indicate that the treatment increases trainees’ capacity to identify positive-sum agreements; we do not find that it enables them to better appraise their outside option and walk away from detrimental deals. We also document a reduction (0.26 standard deviations) in the exploitation of communal forestland in trainees’ communities.

Working Paper
Darin Christensen
Darin Christensen
Associate Professor of Public Policy & Political Science

Political scientist interested in conflict and development.