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All CPR's Are Not Created Equal: Two Important Physical Characteristics and Their Relation to the Resolution of Commons Dilemmas

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Blomquist, William; Schlager, Edella; Tang, Shui-Yan
Conference: Common Property Conference, the Second Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Conf. Date: September 26-30, 1991
Date: 1991
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/1994
Sector: Theory
Subject(s): common pool resources--comparative analysis
Abstract: "Policy prescriptions offered in the now-voluminous literature on common-pool resources (CPRs) frequently focus upon the strategic situation of resource users, paying relatively less attention (or none at all) to the characteristics of the common-pool resources themselves. In short, most contributions to the policy literature presume that all CPRs are alike. Based on our reconsideration of the strategic situations users face, and our empirical observation of three kinds of CPRs fisheries, irrigation systems, and groundwater basins we conclude that two physical characteristics of CPRs have vital implications for the likelihood of successful resolution of difficulties over resource use, and for the types of resolutions users develop. Those physical characteristics are the degree of stationarity of flow units and the existence of storage capacity. Speaking generally, fisheries are CPRs with fugitive flow units and without storage capacity, irrigation systems have fugitive flow units but possible availability of storage, and groundwater basins have relatively stationary flow units and storage capacity. Using comparisons among these types of CPRs, we analyze the effects of these physical characteristics upon the. prospects for the emergence- of successful cooperation in resource use."

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