Governance of Common-Pool Resources

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Scopus citations


Until recently, the conventional theory on collective action assumed the principle that humans are selfish and rational; therefore, when humans share a common-pool resource, they will tend to overharvest. To avoid a tragedy, external interventions were expected to be needed, such as privatization of the commons or pricing the use of resources. However, the work of Ostrom and her colleagues has provided a different theoretical framework that is based on empirical evidence. While there are no simple answers on how best to govern common-pool resources, people are often not trapped in a tragedy of the commons. Rather, humans behave as boundedly rational norm-adopting individuals who learn and adapt. The microsituational context affects whether rules in use are effective in governing the commons. Currently, scholars are developing an approach to diagnose in systematic ways the conditions of social-ecological systems such that the effectiveness of institutional arrangements is understood within the context of the system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEnvironment
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9780123750679
ISBN (Print)9780080964522
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013


  • Common-pool resources
  • Experiments
  • Field studies
  • Institutions
  • Rules

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)


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