Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action

Cambridge University Press
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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.
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Publisher
Cambridge University Press
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Published on
Sep 23, 2015
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Pages
165
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ISBN
9781316453926
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / General
Political Science / History & Theory
Political Science / Public Policy / Economic Policy
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This content is DRM protected.
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Continuing his groundbreaking analysis of economic structures, Douglass North develops an analytical framework for explaining the ways in which institutions and institutional change affect the performance of economies, both at a given time and over time. Institutions exist, he argues, due to the uncertainties involved in human interaction; they are the constraints devised to structure that interaction. Yet, institutions vary widely in their consequences for economic performance; some economies develop institutions that produce growth and development, while others develop institutions that produce stagnation. North first explores the nature of institutions and explains the role of transaction and production costs in their development. The second part of the book deals with institutional change. Institutions create the incentive structure in an economy, and organisations will be created to take advantage of the opportunities provided within a given institutional framework. North argues that the kinds of skills and knowledge fostered by the structure of an economy will shape the direction of change and gradually alter the institutional framework. He then explains how institutional development may lead to a path-dependent pattern of development. In the final part of the book, North explains the implications of this analysis for economic theory and economic history. He indicates how institutional analysis must be incorporated into neo-classical theory and explores the potential for the construction of a dynamic theory of long-term economic change. Douglass C. North is Director of the Center of Political Economy and Professor of Economics and History at Washington University in St. Louis. He is a past president of the Economic History Association and Western Economics Association and a Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has written over sixty articles for a variety of journals and is the author of The Rise of the Western World: A New Economic History (CUP, 1973, with R.P. Thomas) and Structure and Change in Economic History (Norton, 1981). Professor North is included in Great Economists Since Keynes edited by M. Blaug (CUP, 1988 paperback ed.)
Trust is essential to economic and social transactions of all kinds, from choosing a marriage partner, to taking a job, and even buying a used car. The benefits to be gained from such transactions originate in the willingness of individuals to take risks by placing trust in others to behave in cooperative and non-exploitative ways. But how do humans decide whether or not to trust someone? Using findings from evolutionary psychology, game theory, and laboratory experiments, Trust and Reciprocity examines the importance of reciprocal relationships in explaining the origins of trust and trustworthy behavior. In Part I, contributor Russell Hardin argues that before one can understand trust one must account for the conditions that make someone trustworthy. Elinor Ostrom discusses evidence that individuals achieve outcomes better than those predicted by models of game theory based on purely selfish motivations. In Part II, the book takes on the biological foundations of trust. Frans de Waal illustrates the deep evolutionary roots of trust and reciprocity with examples from the animal world, such as the way chimpanzees exchange social services like grooming and sharing. Other contributors look at the links between evolution, cognition, and behavior. Kevin McCabe examines how the human mind processes the complex commitments that reciprocal relationships require, summarizing brain imaging experiments that suggest the frontal lobe region is activated when humans try to cooperate with their fellow humans. Acknowledging the importance of game theory as a theoretical model for examining strategic relationships, in Part III the contributors tackle the question of how simple game theoretic models must be extended to explain behavior in situations involving trust and reciprocity. Reviewing a range of experimental studies, Karen Cook and Robin Cooper conclude that trust is dependent on the complex relationships between incentives and individual characteristics, and must be examined in light of the social contexts which promote or erode trust. As an example, Catherine Eckel and Rick Wilson explore how people's cues, such as facial expressions and body language, affect whether others will trust them. The divergent views in this volume are unified by the basic conviction that humans gain through the development of trusting relationships. Trust and Reciprocity advances our understanding of what makes people willing or unwilling to take the risks involved in building such relationships and why. A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation Series on Trust
Advances in the social sciences have emerged through a variety of research methods: field-based research, laboratory and field experiments, and agent-based models. However, which research method or approach is best suited to a particular inquiry is frequently debated and discussed. Working Together examines how different methods have promoted various theoretical developments related to collective action and the commons, and demonstrates the importance of cross-fertilization involving multimethod research across traditional boundaries. The authors look at why cross-fertilization is difficult to achieve, and they show ways to overcome these challenges through collaboration.

The authors provide numerous examples of collaborative, multimethod research related to collective action and the commons. They examine the pros and cons of case studies, meta-analyses, large-N field research, experiments and modeling, and empirically grounded agent-based models, and they consider how these methods contribute to research on collective action for the management of natural resources. Using their findings, the authors outline a revised theory of collective action that includes three elements: individual decision making, microsituational conditions, and features of the broader social-ecological context.


Acknowledging the academic incentives that influence and constrain how research is conducted, Working Together reworks the theory of collective action and offers practical solutions for researchers and students across a spectrum of disciplines.

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