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A's and B's: Dynamics of Resource Use Among Property Regimes and States

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Princen, Thomas
Conference: Reinventing the Commons, the Fifth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Bodoe, Norway
Conf. Date: May 24-28, 1995
Date: 1995
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/580
Sector: Theory
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources
property rights
international relations
Abstract: "This paper develops a model for analyzing interactions among different property regimes and among property regimes and states. The model rests on four premises of human behavior at the individual, group, and state levels: individuals are disposed to form restricted access property regimes - private or common; individuals tend not to 'foul their own nests;' individuals deplete others' resources with little regard for long-term resource impacts and little attempt to moderate use of those resources; and state interests align with the interests of those who use others' resources. "The paper argues that although individuals tend to resist outsiders' appropriation of their resource, several factors mitigate against such resistance. These include: insufficient threat, monitoring benefits, favorable prices, state promotion, and jurisdictional distance. An especially important factor is the state and its imperative to generate revenues from convertible currencies. Introducing an outsider results in an increased aggregate discount measure, a strain on resource management, and a common currency that devalues self-organized restraint mechanisms. These results can occur when the exchange between regimes entails no gains from trade. They can be interpreted as the externalization of costs and the conversion of property regimes to open access. The paper concludes that the contemporary political economy is reaching a critical juncture ecologically whereby cost externalization and open access are no longer minor impediments to increasing wealth and prosperity."

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