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Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action

Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action

Paperback Political Economy of Institutions and Decisions

By (author) The late Elinor Ostrom, Series edited by Randall Calvert, Series edited by Thrainn Eggertsson

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  • Publisher: CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS
  • Format: Paperback | 298 pages
  • Dimensions: 150mm x 224mm x 20mm | 454g
  • Publication date: 1 February 1991
  • Publication City/Country: Cambridge
  • ISBN 10: 0521405998
  • ISBN 13: 9780521405997
  • Illustrations note: 20 b/w illus. 6 tables
  • Sales rank: 46,738

Product description

The governance of natural resources used by many individuals in common is an issue of increasing concern to policy analysts. Both state control and privatisation of resources have been advocated, but neither the state nor the market have been uniformly successful in solving common pool resource problems. Offering a critique of the foundations of policy analysis as applied to natural resources, Elinor Ostrom here provides a unique body of empirical data to explore conditions under which common pool resource problems have been satisfactorily or unsatisfactorily solved. Dr Ostrom first describes three models most frequently used as the foundation for recommending state or market solutions. She then outlines theoretical and empirical alternatives to these models in order to illustrate the diversity of possible solutions. In the following chapters she uses institutional analysis to examine different ways - both successful and unsuccessful - of governing the commons. In contrast to the proposition of the tragedy of the commons argument, common pool problems sometimes are solved by voluntary organisations rather than by a coercive state. Among the cases considered are communal tenure in meadows and forests, irrigation communities and other water rights, and fisheries.

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Review quote

"In this ambitious, provocative, and very useful book Ostrom combines a lucid theoretical framework with a series of diverse and richly detailed case studies...she tightly reviews and critiques extant models of cooperation and collective action and argues powerfully that communities of actors are sometimes able to maintain a common resource for long periods of time without outside intervention." Contemporary Sociology "Ostrom's book is an important contribution to the problems of Commom Property Resources that is, the lack of well-defined property rights over a certain resource. Elinor Ostrom convincingly shows that there are many different viable mixtures between public and private, in particular self-organization and self-governance by the users of the common property resource. The book makes fascinating reading, particularly as it is well written." Bruno S. Frey, Kyklos "This is an important book that deserves to be read widely in the policy community as well as the scholarly community...this analysis leaves us with provocative questions whose examination promises to broaden and deepen our understanding of human/environment relationships at many levels." Oran R. Young, International Environmental Affairs "Cambridge University Press has published an impressive series called 'The Political Economy of Institutions and Decisions.' Elinor Ostrom, Professor of Political Science at Indiana University, has made an important contribution to the series with Governing the Commons...In large part, the book is a fascinating and detailed examination of common ownership of various natural resources." Dean Lueck, Constitutional Political Economy "Students of common-property resource regimes will find much of great interest in the volume." Barry C. Field, Land Economics "...timely, well-written, and a useful addition to our understanding of the challenges of natural resource management...useful for undergraduate and graduate students as well as field practitioners interested in the development of scientifically based research. It provides a firm grounding in the theoretical underpinnings that should guide empirical investigations...Ostrom offers a unique source of information on the realities of resource management institutions coupled with the challenge for continued examination of institutions in order to develop better ways to address the CPR challenge." Gordon L. Brady, Southern Economic Journal "Ostrom's book makes an important contribution to the emerging literature on analytical institutional economics. Her work reminds us that analysis of institutions and institutional change is an important aspect of a broader political economy that underlies meaningful economic policy advice." Daniel W. Bromley, Journal of Economic Literature "This is the most influential book in the last decade on thinking about the commons. For those involved with small communities...located in one nation, whose lives depend on a common pool of renewable resources...Governing the Commons has been the intellectual field guide." Whole Earth "A classic by one of the best-known thinkers on communities and commons." Yes! A Journal of Positive Futures

Back cover copy

Elinor Ostrom here provides a unique body of empirical data to explore the conditions under which common-pool resource problems have been satisfactorily or unsatisfactorily solved.

Table of contents

Series editors; preface; Preface; 1. Reflections on the commons; 2. An institutional approach to the study of self-organization and self-governance in CPR situations; 3. Analyzing long-enduring, self-organized and self-governed CPRs; 4. Analyzing institutional change; 5. Analyzing institutional failures and fragilities; 6. A framework for analysis of self-organizing and self-governing CPRs; Notes; References; Index.