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The Survival and Performance of Irrigation Organizations: An Institutional Analysis: A Dissertation Proposal

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Type: Working Paper
Author: Tang, Shui-Yan
Date: 1987
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/4463
Sector: Water Resource & Irrigation
Subject(s): Workshop
institutional analysis--IAD framework
Abstract: From page 1: "The works of Garrett Hardin (1968) and Mancur Olson (1965) underscore the difficulty individuals face in taking collective action to advance their common interests. Their works have been used extensively in discussions about environmental and resource issues. According to their arguments, a commons dilemma easily arises when a scarce resource is jointly used by multiple individuals. The dilemma would lead to 'over-exploitation' or 'inefficient use' of the resource. For some biological systems, such as fisheries, 'over-exploitation' may even lead to permanent destruction of their regenerative capabilities. "An important problem arises, therefore, as to how individuals can avoid the 'tragedy of the commons' in relation to the use of valued resources such as irrigation systems, forests, and fisheries. Hardin (1968) himself argues that the dilemma can hardly be avoided unless a bureau, backed by coercive power, is established to manage the resource. Lewis and Cowen (1983), on the other hand, argue that it is possible even in an open-access resource to avoid the 'tragedy of the commons' if some information, enforcement, and monitoring conditions are fulfilled. Others argue that the establishment of clear private property rights is the best way to avoid the problem (e.g., Demsetz, 1967). Still others suggest that some kinds of communal systems may be appropriate under certain conditions (e.g., Dahlman, 1980; National Research Council, 1987). "A brief survey of cases in natural resource management, however, indicates that there is no 'one best way' to avoid the commons dilemma. We can find different combinations of private, communal, and public arrangements in well-managed natural resource systems such as water basins, in-shore fisheries, and grazing lands (E. Ostrom, 1986b). An important research problem, therefore, is how various institutional arrangements may be used to tackle different commons dilemmas. My dissertation will attempt to address this important problem in relationship to the organization of irrigation systems."

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