The governance of community forests requires that resource appropriators overcome collective action dilemmas. Often, forest communities appear unable to do this. External actors then present themselves to help. Inducing the organization of communities through external actors is common practice in development efforts in general, and in community forestry programs, in particular. Does external-agent involvement affect the likelihood of durable collective action at the local level? We apply criteria associated with durable collective action to six communities in Maharashtra, India, with varying levels of external-actor involvement in the organization of Joint Forest Management committees. Our results show that although there is a (weak) correlation between external-agent involvement and expected durability of local collective action, such interventions do not appear to straightforwardly lead to the emergence of durable forms of collective action in communities where it didn't previously exist.
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Vol. 15 • No. 1