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Organization of Decision-Making Arrangements and the Development of Atmospheric Resources

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Type: Working Paper
Author: Ostrom, Vincent
Date: 1968
Agency: Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/4436
Sector: New Commons
Global Commons
Subject(s): Workshop
decision making
intergovernmental relations
institutional analysis
Abstract: From pp. 53-54: More than a century ago, pioneers advancing into the arid regions of the American West, found it necessary to design and organize new institutional arrangements for the development and use of water resources. Some of their solutions were drawn from the concepts of mining law; some were drawn from the law of municipal corporations and adapted to the problems of human enterprise in a desert region. The institutional arrangements which form the contemporary structure of the California water industry were fashioned as incremental solutions to water problems over the course of more than a century of experience with life in a desert region. The deserts have been watered by human enterprise and the improbable prospect of a major megapolis developing in a desert has become a reality. The realm of the noosphere as characterized by Teilhard and Huxley represents the incremental accumulation of piece-meal solutions in the building of civilization as men have advanced through time along their diverse paths of learning and development. The most that men can do is to use the best of their capabilities in building upon the knowledge and technology that is available in fashioning workable environment which affords the promise of a better life. The bits and pieces become a part of a whole fabric by virtue of a coordinated unfolding of the works, the technology and the operations that affect the physical transformation of resource systems, and by virtue of the incremental addition of agreements, decisions and their implementing actions which affect a social transformation in the organization of human society. Every new physical solution, every new technological development must be accompanied by a new political solution, a new institutional arrangement. Meeting the criteria of technical feasibility is only one condition to be met in developing any resource system as part of the human endeavor. The criteria of economic feasibility, financial feasibility, legal feasibility, and political feasibility must all be met. These criteria relate primarily to the coordination and integration of each new enterprise into the institutional configuration of human society as a going concern. The organization of appropriate institutional arrangements to undertake the development of atmospheric resources will undoubtedly require pioneering into new political realms. In the long-run, national arrangements will not suffice. International arrangements will be required to deal with the continental and global dimensions of atmospheric phenomena. These innovations will have to be fashioned from the familiar tools at hand. New institutions must always be fashioned from the old if we are to sustain the continuity of human enterprise and human civilization."

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