Natural resource management decisions are complicated by multiple property rights, management objectives, and stakeholders with varying degrees of influence over the decision making process. In order to make efficient decisions, managers must incorporate the opinions and values of the involved stakeholders as well as understand the complex institutional constraints and opportunities that influence the decision-making process. Often this type of information is not understood until after a decision has been made, which can result in wasted time and effort.
The purpose of my dissertation was to show how institutional frameworks and stakeholder involvement influence the various phases of the resource management decision-making process in a public choice framework. The intent was to assist decision makers and stakeholders by developing a methodology for formally incorporating stakeholders'' objectives and influence into the resource management planning process and to predict the potential success of rent-seeking activity based on stakeholder preferences and level of influence. Concepts from decision analysis, institutional analysis, and public choice economics were used in designing this interdisciplinary framework. The framework was then applied to an actual case study concerning elk and bison management on the National Elk Refuge and Grand Teton National Park near Jackson, Wyoming. The framework allowed for the prediction of the level of support and conflict for all relevant policy decisions, and the identification of each stakeholder''s level of support or opposition for each management decision.