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Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action (Political Economy of Institutions and Decisions) [Kindle Edition]

Elinor Ostrom

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"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

Über das Produkt

Neither the state nor the market have been successful in solving common pool resource problems. This study accordingly analyses communal interests in land, irrigation communities, fisheries etc. and proposes alternative solutions.


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 1611 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 308 Seiten
  • ISBN-Quelle für Seitenzahl: 0521405998
  • Gleichzeitige Verwendung von Geräten: Bis zu 4 Geräte gleichzeitig, je nach vom Verlag festgelegter Grenze
  • Verlag: Cambridge University Press; Auflage: 1 (30. November 1990)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ASIN: B00AHTN46Q
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Aktiviert
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Nicht aktiviert
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #153.494 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.4 von 5 Sternen  24 Rezensionen
90 von 93 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Hints on how to read Governing the Commons 13. November 2008
Von A.G. - Veröffentlicht auf
Elinor Ostrom's Governing the Commons is a wonderful introduction to the world of "common pool resources," a.k.a. CPRs. Technicalities aside, a CPR is a resource that grows over time but can be harvested by more than one person. The classic example of a CPR is the English grazing commons, popularized in Hardin's "The Tragedy of the Commons." Forests, fisheries, and smog-free air are also good examples.

In her book, Ostrom takes an ethnographic approach to studying the management and mismanagement of CPRs. The key question for managing such commons is sustainability. Without some kind of enforceable agreement among those who would harvest a CPR, the resource will rapidly be depleted and possibly destroyed. Ostrom argues that good collective management can arise naturally from communities of people with a mutual interest in the sustainability of commons. In a series of detailed case studies, she lays out conditions ("design principles") that seem to allow -- or prevent -- the good governance of the CPR in question.

Once you've seen these design principles, they seem to pop up everywhere. "Congruence between appropriation and provision rules and local conditions" sounds a lot like the idea of local adaptation in the diffusion of innovations literature. "Monitoring" sounds like the role middle managers play in corporations. "Minimal rights to organize" sounds like the First Amendment.

Overall, Ostrom's book is an open-ended classic. It provides a great description of common pool resources through the lens of ethnographic case studies, plus a framework for looking at CPR problems in general. Ostrom never advances of specific theory of governance. Instead, she lays out many interesting and suggestive examples and principles. The field of CPR research has expended in many directions since Ostrom started it -- it's worth going back to the source to see where it all began.

Hints on how to read this book:

* To really motivate your reading, alternate chapters with Jared Diamond's Collapse. (But skim Collapse; it can be tedious.) Reading about how mismanagement of common pool resources led to the failure of entire civilizations will put an edge on your curiosity about how we can do better.

* As you read Governing the Commons, play the "Is a [blank] a CPR?" game. Switch on a radio to any news program. As soon as the topic becomes clear, mute the radio and ask yourself if the situation can be described as a commons. (The sub-prime bailout? Presidential elections? Somali piracy?) Odds are the answer is yes. It doesn't have to be a natural resource to be a common pool resource -- this analytical frame is extremely handy.

* If you're a scientist, don't read Ostrom looking for a clear, falsifiable theory. She never gives one. Instead, she describes a broad framework for considering the interaction between environment and government. It's a great seedbed of ideas -- but those ideas will need to be cultivated before they can be tested.

* Ask yourself about scaling cooperative management. Unfortunately, Ostrom never tackles this problem. She never gives much thought to whether what works in small communities can be scaled to the level of nations or the world. She can't -- ethnography simply can't cover that much ground. Consequently, "scaling" remains (even after 20 years) one of the great unanswered questions of collective governance.

PS -- If you figure the scaling problem out, please do us all a favor and fix global carbon emissions.
41 von 43 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Addressing the Collective Action Problem 2. August 2007
Von Matthew P. Arsenault - Veröffentlicht auf
Ostrom attempts to refute the belief that only through state and or market-centered controls can commonly pooled resources (CPRs) be effectively governed. Ostrom writes, "Communities of individuals have relied on institutions resembling neither the state nor the market to govern some resource systems with reasonable degrees of success over long periods of time" (p. 1). Governing the Commons sets out to discover why some groups are able to effectively govern and manage CPRs and other groups fail. She tries to identify both the internal and external factors "that can impede or enhance the capabilities of individuals to use and govern CPRs."

The first section of the book examines both state-controlled and privatization property rights regimes, and illustrates failures in both regimes; namely, that central authorities often fail to have complete accuracy of information, have only limited monitoring capabilities, and possess a weak sanctioning reliability. As such, a centralized governing body may actually govern the commons inaccurately and make a bad situation worse. In the case of privatized property rights regimes, Ostrom illustrates two main points: 1) it assumes that property is homogenous and any division of property will be equitable; and 2) privatization will not work with non-stationary property (fisheries, for example).

After discussing the state-controlled and privatization property rights regimes, Ostrom attempts examine the causes of successful CPR governance, and the catalysts which lead to failure. Being part of the "new institutionalist" school, Ostrom seeks to examine the rules, structures, and frameworks within the various CPR governance structures. Ostrom has discovered a number of "design principles" within the successful CPR governance cases. These principles include: 1) a clear definition of boundaries, 2) monitors who either are appropriators of the resource or accountable to the appropriators, 3) graduated sanctions, 4) mechanisms controlled by the appropriators used to mediate conflict and when necessary, change the rules, 5) a congruence between the rules used and the local conditions.

In other words, Ostrom suggests that these "design principles," form a cooperative institutional structure. If the correct institutions are in place, the players will see cooperation as the best means to gain optimal outcomes. These mechanisms create a confidence between players that defections will be minimal, and those that do defect will be sanctioned accordingly. Additionally, the institutional structures create an environment in which resources are distributed in such a way that all (or at least most) players benefit. As such, many of these institutional structures must be accompanied by a good deal of trust between players. This can only be developed over time and is most likely to succeed when the number of players in the CPR is reasonably small.
28 von 29 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen One of the most important works in the social science literature published in the last 100 years 30. Dezember 2006
Von Daniel H. Cole - Veröffentlicht auf
"Governing the Commons" has become a classic, not only within the literature of political science, but more broadly throughout the social sciences. In the book, Elinor Ostrom argues brilliantly and compelling for a third way of avoiding Garrett Hardin's "tragedy of the commons," in addition to privatization (conversion of the commons to private property) or government regulation (conversion of the commons to public property). Though numerous examples, Ostrom demonstrates how users of common property resources have managed, in various places around the world, to sustainably manage those resources through local, self-regulation. In other words, common property regimes can avoid the "tragedy of the commons."

Ostrom recognizes that common property management regimes do not always work. Indeed, the seem to fail as often as they succeed. To explain why this is the case, and to help predict the likelihood of success or failure, Ostrom develops an elaborate and very useful model of common property success/failure. In the 15 years since she published "Governing the Commons," that model has not been significantly improved by other scholars. Her book remains as current and important today, as it was when she first published it in 1990. It is required reading for all social scientists, indeed anyone, interested in resource conservation and property systems.
26 von 29 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen conventional theory applied to odd cases 21. Mai 2002
Von D. W. MacKenzie - Veröffentlicht auf
Ostroms' book covers a variety of cases where allocational difficulties arise. She employs sound economic reasoning in analyzing a number of cases where ordinary property rights enforcment is difficult. This book illustrates how vital institutional arrangements are in managing natural resources. Self-described environmentalists should read this book to see how many of the problems that concern them can actually get solved. The history in this book is made interesting through the application of economic concepts. This is not light reading, but it surely is interesting- for serious readers.
10 von 11 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen We need more people like Ostrom 24. November 2009
Von Un francais en angleterre - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
I am surprised that there's little review activity going on for this book, even though the author has won the "fake nobel" prize (i.e. the "price in memory of alfred nobel" for economy). Regardless of what one thinks about the fake nobel, the author is certainly someone whose achievements deserve recognition. This book is a pedagogical summary of the important work that she's done in relation to "Common Pool Resources".

It is written in an accurate and scientific style that never falls into the jargon trap. This gives a vivid impression of the author as someone open minded and keeping her thinking clear and focused on the facts.

After an introduction on her intentions and method, she presents the so called "tragedy of the commons" (and its close kin, the "prisoner's dilemna") as a situation where theoretical thinking sees central intervention as the only way to break the (self)destructive behaviour predicted and often observed: everyone tries to appropriate as much as they can get away from common resources until those resources collapse and everyone becomes worse off. She then calls attention to several field situations where individuals have been able to organize themselves to avoid falling into this trap without external intervention. The situations described are as diverse as mountain terrain in Switzerland, irrigation land in Spain and the Philippines or even fisheries in Turkey. Ostrom provides a detailed description of the salient features of these institutions before highlighting the common ground and the differences. She points out that these examples have institutions that have been stable for a long time and that we're therefore unsure about the process through which the institutions themselves were created.

She then turns to more recent examples of successful institutions managing CPR where information is available regarding the institutional development that led to the current situation. The key examples are water management institutions in California and a project to improve local irrigation communities in Sri Lanka. She finally contrasts successful institutions with failing ones, with a view to identify whether factors that may have been thought of as being factors of success may not actually be irrelevant.

The overall message of the book is that it is possible for local communities to take care of themselves and to efficiently manage CPR. It is not easy though and certain type of government intervention actually makes the matter worse. Likewise privatization is also not a one size fits all solution. So she's basically highlighting the need to consider each situation on its own, without ideological glasses. She provides a framework to analyze each specific case, but certainly avoids over-generalization.

The world needs more people like Ostrom, (i.e. lucid thinkers genuinely interested to understand what goes on). Too bad the typical social "scientist" seems to be more interested to bend the facts to fit to his theories and ideologies.
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