Kyrgyzstan has undergone an enormous transformation and gained valuable experience in designing institutions in natural resource management. This study reflects on the Kyrgyz transformation experience in pasture use and management, seeking to contribute to the political and scientific discourse on institutional change in post-socialist contexts. It suggests that, under conditions of uncertainty and legal pluralism, action situations where actors negotiate over access to these resources while making individual and collective decisions about resource use are affected by a complex interplay between formal and informal institutions.
The research findings demonstrate that power and efficiency considerations of actors play an important role in institutional change, as actors intentionally decide on what they consider to be effective institutions based on their beliefs regarding potential benefits offered by different institutional forms. This study critically assesses the evolution of formal and informal institutions in Kyrgyz pasture management within the process of implementation of new legislation.
The research argues that power asymmetry can, but does not necessarily, lead to inefficient bargaining outcomes. Under conditions of incomplete information and uncertainty about the preferences of others, actors may have difficulties in coordinating their cooperation. But it has also been found that, under these conditions, the shared beliefs of actors may rather help to economize on information processing and more efficiently coordinate their cooperation. Therefore, the study highlights a need to support the learning processes which pasture users and policy makers go through, to overcome a gap between their beliefs and, thereby, to increase the sustainability of institutions in resource use and management.