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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:University of Maine
  • Timothy M Waring
  • (207) 581-3157
Award Date:03/03/2014
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 523,900
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 523,900
  • FY 2014=$523,900
Start Date:07/01/2014
End Date:06/30/2020
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.075
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:CAREER: The Evolution of Local Food Organizations
Federal Award ID Number:1352361
DUNS ID:186875787
Parent DUNS ID:071750426
Program:SoO-Science Of Organizations
Program Officer:
  • Georgia Chao
  • (703) 292-8053

Awardee Location

Street:5717 Corbett Hall
Awardee Cong. District:02

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:University of Maine
Cong. District:02

Abstract at Time of Award

Humanity is challenged to integrate the critical and malleable role of human organizational behavior with our efforts toward sustainability. Environmental conservation frequently comes at a cost to individuals, and sustaining resources often requires cooperation between users. But cooperative, durable organizations that manage resources sustainably do sometimes arise. Therefore, an examination of the processes that influence the emergence and persistence of cooperative organizations that maintain conservation practices should be of value for advancing sustainability science and organizational theory alike. Linking theory on the evolution of organizations, institutions, cooperation and culture, this career development plan assembles a conceptual framework for the emergence and persistence of organizations that support costly conservation practices. The plan then applies this framework to a case study of cooperative local food organizations in Maine, employing formal and informal education to transform the capacity of citizens, students and stakeholders to conceptualize and engage in organizational change necessary to shape sustainable solutions. The planned research uses an evolutionary framework to explore the patterns of institutional emergence associated with costly conservation. The integration of three research elements will supply convergent validity to a contextual study of the evolution of sustainable institutions: (1) Theoretical models will develop insights about which combinations and sequences of institutional features tend to emerge in stable, conservative groups. Model development will be interleaved with (2) a case study of cooperative, self-organized local food organizations using interviews, surveys, economic games and a randomized controlled trail to characterize institutional variation and change. (3) Local food organizations will be treated as stakeholders in a collaborative facilitation process designed to empower groups to set and meet self-identified goals. The planned educational effort engages students, stakeholders, and citizens in learning, measuring and improving the ability of organizations to achieve cooperative goals. Five cohorts of ~30 students each will be directly engaged in the research through a student-driven statewide survey. New cross-listed courses will bridge economics, psychology and anthropology by focusing on endogenous organizational dynamics and methods for measuring them quantitatively. Constituents in local food organizations will be provided educational materials designed to improve their institutional efficacy. Finally, theory, methods and findings will be shared through web-based educational simulations with high school to graduate students, and an ongoing collaboration with a local children's museum. Intellectual Merit: This plan supplies an evolutionary theory of the emergence and persistence of conservation behaviors and seeks to identify the institutional features that stabilize them. Methodologically, the research bridges social-science boundaries, by synthesizing evidence from experiments, models, surveys, interviews and a randomized controlled trial. This multi-disciplinary approach aims to provide a dynamic model that contributes to evolutionary organizational science and promises to make nascent sustainability theory more predictive and generalizable. Broader Impacts: The plan includes two major investments in stakeholder driven-research. First, a collaborative stakeholder facilitation process will empower local food groups to self-identify goals and benchmarks to improve group efficacy. The facilitation will be rigorously evaluated via randomized controlled trial, and supply information on how recent research may help groups achieve their goals. Second, an iterative, multi-year collaboration with state-level food industry and food policy organizations such as the Maine Food Strategy will enable these stakeholders to co-direct the research efforts, shaping the research questions addressed in a summative local foods analysis conducted in year five. This collaboration increases the likelihood that the research described here will be of direct value for the development of food policy in Maine, New England and beyond.

Publications Produced as a Result of this Research

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Samuel P. Hanes, Timothy M. Waring "Cultural evolution and US agricultural institutions: a historical case study of Maine?s blueberry industry" Sustainability Science, v.13, 2018, p.49?58. doi:10.1007/s11625-017-0508-3 

Waring, T. M., M. Ann Kline, J. S. Brooks, S. H. Goff, J. Gowdy, M. A. Janssen, P. E. Smaldino and J. Jacquet. "A multilevel evolutionary framework for sustainability analysis." Ecology and Society, v.20, 2015, p.34. doi:10.5751/ES-07634-200234 

Timothy M. Waring, Goff, S., Smaldino, P. "The coevolution of economic institutions and sustainable consumption via cultural group selection" Ecological Economics, v.131, 2017, p.524. doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2016.09.022 

Tremblay, Ethan, and Timothy Waring "A Smiling Face Is Half The Meal: The Role of Cooperation in Sustaining Maine?s Local Food Industry." Maine Policy Review, v.23, 2014, p.43.

Kline, M.A., Waring, T.M., & Salerno, J.D. "Designing cultural multilevel selection research for sustainability science" Sustainability Science, v.13, 2018, p.9?19. doi:10.1007/s11625-017-0509-2 

Waring, T. M., M. Ann Kline, J. S. Brooks, S. H. Goff, J. Gowdy, M. A. Janssen, P. E. Smaldino and J. Jacquet. "A multilevel evolutionary framework for sustainability analysis" Ecology and Society, v.20, 2015, p.34. doi:10.5751/ES-07634-200234 

Waring, T. M., & Tremblay, E. "Evolutionary Approach to Sustainability Science" Cliodynamics: The Journal of Quantitative History and Cultural Evolution, v.7, 2016, p.119. doi:10.21237/C7clio7131139 

Jeremy S. Brooks, Timothy M. Waring, Monique Borgerhoff Mulder, Peter J. Richerson "Applying cultural evolution to sustainability challenges: an introduction to the special issue" Sustainability Science, v.13, 2018, p.1?8. doi:10.1007/s11625-017-0516-3 

Timothy Waring, Abigail Sullivan, Jared Stapp "Campus prosociality as a sustainability indicator" International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, v., 2016, p..

Timothy Waring, James Acheson "Evidence of Cultural Group Selection in Territorial Lobstering in Maine." Sustainability Science, v.13, 2018, p.21?34. doi:10.1007/s11625-017-0501-x 

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