Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Resource Economics and Policy


Kathleen P. Bell

Second Committee Member

Jessica Leahy

Third Committee Member

James Acheson


Lake management is a complicated issue. Lakes are a common pool resource (CPR), meaning that one person's use affects another's ability to use and enjoy the lake. Poorly defined property rights mean that CPRs are prone to market failure, and traditional "top down" management structures may fall short. "Bottom up" management structures that originate at the local level, such as lake associations, may be better suited to address these problems because they may be better suited to address individual actions and overcome transaction costs associated with resource management. This thesis is made up of two manuscripts that employ institutional economics to address the role associations play in lake management in Maine. The first manuscript uses the Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) framework (Ostrom 1990, 2000, 2005) to explain the distribution of lake associations in Maine, while the second applies this same framework to factors that influence the success of lake associations in addressing five different lake management issues. According to the IAD framework, we hypothesize that resource, community and institutional characteristics influence where lake associations occur in Maine. We use binary logistic regression to examine the role factors from each of the three categories play in determining the distribution of lake associations Our results provide preliminary support for the use of the IAD framework to explain the distribution of lake associations. Lake associations are more likely to be present on lakes that are valued recreation resources, at risk from an environmental threat, have large seasonal populations within the associated community, depend on natural resource based industries, cross multiple jurisdictions, and are not protected by special zoning. Informed by the IAD framework, we test the influence of association size, age and composition affect management success. We hypothesize that each of these factors, with the exception of membership mix, will have a positive influence on the level of success in addressing a particular issue. After analyzing ordinal logistic regression results, we find that different factors influence success at managing different lake issues, but attention given to the issue by the association and success at collaboration with other groups are consistently positively correlated with perceived success. Membership size is positively correlated with water quality success, while age is positively associated with water level and erosion control success. Neither of the parameters associated with membership mix are significant in the final specification. Local level organizations provide an opportunity to address some of the management challenges of CPRs. This research illustrates the opportunity lake associations present to address lake management issues at a local level through the collaboration with other organizations and agencies.