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Resolving Common Pool Resource Dilemmas and Heterogeneities Among Resource Users

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Schlager, Edella; Blomquist, William
Conference: Crossing Boundaries, the Seventh Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Conf. Date: June 10-14
Date: 1998
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/1009
Sector: Social Organization
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources--theory
institutional analysis--IAD framework
social dilemmas
Abstract: Conclusion: "Heterogeneities among resource users are commonly viewed as anathema to resolving common pool resource dilemmas. Ostrom (1990:211) states that resource users are more likely to adopt a set of rules that improves joint welfare if 'appropriators will be affected in similar ways by the proposed rule change', which is only possible if appropriators are homogeneous in all important respects. While heterogeneities may, in many cases, confound attempts to resolve common-pool resource dilemmas, they are ubiquitous. As the IAD framework demonstrates, there are numerous dimensions on which resource users may differ. Furthermore, most attention to heterogeneities has focused on attempting to reach agreements for solving shared problems. As both Ostrom (1990) and Scharpf (1997) argue, reaching an agreement is only one step in resolving shared problems, attention must be paid to implementation, including commitment and monitoring. Heterogeneities may effect resource users' willingness to follow as well as enforce rules. "Even though in many instances heterogeneities present substantial challenges to users of a shared resource, they nevertheless surmount such obstacles and devise and implement institutional arrangements. The issue then is how those arrangements address and overcome the obstacles presented by differences among resource users. In general, most institutional arrangements devised to address common-pool resource dilemmas also address heterogeneities by separating resource users into homogenous groups, forcing resource users to work together, or removing groups of users from the resource. Thus, in evaluating institutional arrangements for managing common pool resources, attention must be paid not only to their efficiency, effectiveness, and fairness, but also to how the resolve resource user heterogeneity."

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