Alpine Common Property Institutions under Change: Conditions for Successful and Unsuccessful Collective Action of Alpine Farmers in the Canton Grisons of Switzerland

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



"It is time to review the robust image of common property institutions in the management of summer pastures called 'alps' in Switzerland created by Robert Netting and Elinor Ostrom and to show the challenges local institutions face today. Although the goal to protect and sustainably manage the summer pastures is stated in law since 1996 and summer pasturing payments have been bound to sustainability criteria since 2000, local common property institutions increasingly struggle with maintaining their institutional arrangements especially regarding the collective maintenance work called 'Gemeinwerk', which is necessary to allocate the common resource. Within the framework of Elinor Ostrom’s design principles and Jean Ensminger’s model of institutional change historical processes and the present situation of two local institutions to manage summer pastures in the Canton Grison (Graubünden) of Switzerland are described and discussed. The results show very different reactions to change: the reduction of the number of farmers, the increasing heterogeneity of their interests, shifts in ideology away from agricultural tradition and the decreasing bargaining power of the farmers, in one case, cause institutional collapse while in the other case the positive history of interaction, good leadership and a sufficient number of farmers to find new forms of organization open the doors for adaptation and institutional innovation."



pastoralism--case studies, resource management--case studies