Institutions and Agency in Creating Collective Action for Common Pool Resources


"This paper argues that despite the importance of agency in the creation of collective action and common pool resource (CPR) management, the relationship between agency and institutions has not been appropriately linked in the CPR literature. We argue that one school of thought in the CPR literature, namely the Collective Action School (CAS) based on rational choice model, has largely disregarded the recursive relationship between agency and CPR institutions, i.e. the fact that agency is enabled as well as constrained by the CPR institutions and different type of rationalities, such as ‘deontological rationality’ which play a key role in making decisions regarding the CPR institution. Similarly, the Structure Based School (SBS) of thought, does not take into account a key aspect regarding agency: its ability to create institutional change and to introduce new institutions based on ‘reflexive deliberation’. The paper links agency and institution through utilization of the concept of ‘collective intentionality’. This creates room for both (a) ‘habitus’/ habitualized thought for action which ultimately leads to the reproduction of the CPR institution, and (b) ‘reflexive deliberation’ which leads to a new way of action which leads to the production of the new CPR institutions. We argue that individual decision which leads to creation of collective action prescribed by CPR institution depends on the complex interplay of these ‘habitus’ and ‘reflexive deliberation’."



agency, collective action, institutions, rationality