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Analyzing the Commons: A Framework

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Oakerson, Ronald J.
Conference: Designing Sustainability on the Commons, the First Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Durham, NC
Conf. Date: September 27-30, 1990
Date: 1990
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/498
Sector: Theory
Subject(s): Workshop
institutional analysis--IAD framework
common pool resources
Abstract: "The paper sets forth an institutional framework for analyzing the commons, one used by the National Academy of Science's Panel on Common Property Resource Management to collect case studies from around the world. The framework distinguishes four types of attributes: (1) the physical features of a resource or facility and the technology used to appropriate its yield; (2) decision-making arrangements (organization and rules) that govern relationships among users and others; (3) mutual choice of strategies and patterns of interaction among decision makers; and (4) outcomes or consequences. Both the physical and technological attributes of the commons and decision-making arrangements affect patterns of interaction, which combine with physical and technological attributes to produce outcomes. Outcomes disclose the effect of a difficulty, but the source of difficulty lies in a lack of congruence between the technical and physical nature of a commons and the decision-making arrangements used to govern its use. The lack of good institutional 'fit' potentially creates a perverse structure of incentives leading individuals into counterproductive patterns of interaction that generates undesirable outcomes. Use of the framework permits systematic comparison of cases, including both institutional successes and failures, and facilitates both knowledge-building and diagnostic analysis problems."

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