The Tragedy of the Commons and Resource Management in Botswana

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



"The subject of this paper is the 'tragedy of the commons,' a thesis first popularized in its modern version in Garrett Hardin's now famous 'Science' article of 1968. Since then, it has in many ways become the dominant paradigm of resource overexploitation resulting from common ownership. As an explanation, it has formed the basis of numerous public policies devoted to 'privatizing' natural resources from current policies in the United States to many effort s to end common ownership of resources in the developing world. It is directly relevant to Botswana's experience with range management. The influence which the tragedy of the commons thesis has had on policy in Botswana can be seen directly in the 1975 Tribal Grazing Land Policy White Paper, and the Chambers and Feldman consultants report which preceded and formed the basis for it. Here I would like to investigate the soundness of this thesis as a basis for policy. First, I will examine its logical properties, looking carefully at its major premises and conclusions. I will argue that it is an erroneous and inaccurate description of many problems of common resource use, which leads to a limited view of policy options and a restricted sense of the institutions capable of successfully managing natural resources."



land tenure and use, tragedy of the commons