Governing The Commons

Governing The Commons (Google Books), a 1990 book by Elinor Ostrom, of The Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University, presents an approach to avoiding the ‘tragedy of the commons.’ She presents 8 criteria (see below) that are associated with sustainable management of “common-pool resources,” which are non-excludable in physical accessibility (such as forests) but with harvests which are quite excludable (such as wood) in that only one person can use them.

The criteria (or conditions) are listed on p. 90:

  1. Clearly defined boundaries – Individuals or households who have rights to withdraw resource units from the CPR must be clearly defined, as must the boundaries of the CPR itself
  2. Congruence between appropriation and provision rules and local conditions – Appropriation rules restricting time, place, technology, and/or quantity of resource units are related to local conditions and to provision rules requiring labor, material and/or money.
  3. Collective-choice arrangements – Most individuals affected by the operational rules can participate in modifying the operational rules.
  4. Monitoring – Monitors, who actively audit CPR conditions and appropriator behavior, are accountable to the appropriators or are the appropriators.
  5. Graduated sanctions – Appropriators who violate operational rules are likely to be assessed graduated sanctions (depending on the seriousness and context of the offense) by other appropriators, by officials accountable to these appropriators, or by both.
  6. Conflict-resolution mechanisms – Appropriators and their officials have rapid access to low-cost local arenas to resolve conflicts among appropriators or between appropriators and officials.
  7. Minimal recognition of rights to organize – The rights of appropriators to devise their own institutions are not challenged by external governmental authorities.
  8. Nested enterprises – Appropriation, provision, monitoring, enforcement, conflict resolution, and governance activities are organized in multiple layers of nested enterprises. (for CPRs that are parts of larger systems)

Available at amazon.com.

Resource submitted by: Muriel Strand

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