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Governing the Commons
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Book 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 privatization of resources have been advocated, but neither the state nor the market have been uniformly successful in solving common pool resource problems. After critiquing 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 uses institutional analysis to explore 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 organizations 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.

Reviews

‘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.'

Source: Contemporary Sociology

‘Ostrom's book is an important contribution to the problems of common 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 Source: Kyklos

‘Students of common property resource regimes will find much of great interest in the volume.'

Barry C. Field Source: Land Economics

‘A classic by one of the best-known thinkers on communities and commons.'

Source: Yes! A Journal of Positive Futures

‘… 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 on order to develop better ways to address the CPR challenge.'

Gordon L. Brady Source: Southern Economic Journal

‘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.'

Source: Whole Earth

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