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The Drama of the Commons THE DRAMA OF THE COMMONS Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change Elinor Ostrom, Thomas Dietz, Nives Dolšak, Paul C. Stern, Susan Stonich, and Elke U. Weber, Editors Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, DC
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The Drama of the Commons NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Washington, DC 20418 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. The study was supported by Grant No. BCS-9906253 between the National Academy of Sciences and the National Science Foundation and a grant from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund to Indiana University. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the organizations or agencies that provided support for this project. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data The drama of the commons / Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change ; Elinor Ostrom ... [et al.], editors. p. cm. ISBN 0-309-08250-1 (Hard cover) 1. Commons. 2. Natural resources—Management. 3. Sustainable development. I. National Research Council (U.S.). Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change. II. Ostrom, Elinor. HD1286 .D7 2001 333.2—dc21 2001006476 Additional copies of this report are available from National Academy Press, 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20418 Call (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area) This report is also available online at http://www.nap.edu Printed in the United States of America Copyright 2002 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Suggested citation: National Research Council (2002) The Drama of the Commons. Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change. E. Ostrom, T. Dietz, N. Dolšak, P.C. Stern, S. Stovich, and E.U. Weber, Eds. Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
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The Drama of the Commons THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES National Academy of Sciences National Academy of Engineering Institute of Medicine National Research Council The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Wm. A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. Wm. A. Wulf are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.
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The Drama of the Commons COMMITTEE ON THE HUMAN DIMENSIONS OF GLOBAL CHANGE THOMAS DIETZ (Chair), Department of Environmental Science and Policy, and Department of Sociology and Anthropology, George Mason University BARBARA ENTWISLE, Department of Sociology, University of North Carolina MYRON GUTMANN, Department of History, University of Texas at Austin RONALD MITCHELL, Department of Political Science, University of Oregon, and Institute for International Studies, Stanford University EMILIO MORAN, Department of Anthropology, Indiana University M. GRANGER MORGAN, Department of Engineering and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University EDWARD PARSON, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Environment and Natural Resources Program, Harvard University ALAN RANDALL, Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics, Ohio State University PETER J. RICHERSON, Division of Environmental Studies, University of California, Davis MARK ROSENZWEIG, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania STEPHEN H. SCHNEIDER, Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University SUSAN STONICH, Department of Anthropology Environmental Studies Program, University of California, Santa Barbara ELKE U. WEBER, Department of Psychology, Columbia University THOMAS J. WILBANKS, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN CHARLES KENNEL (Ex Officio), Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego ORAN R. YOUNG (Ex Officio), Institute of Arctic Studies, Dartmouth College PAUL C. STERN, Study Director DEBORAH M. JOHNSON, Senior Project Assistant
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The Drama of the Commons Preface “The commons” has long been a pivotal idea in environmental studies, and the resources and institutions described by that term have long been recognized as central to many environmental problems, especially problems of global environmental change. Since its birth in 1989, the Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change of the National Research Council has recognized the importance of commons and commons research (Global Environmental Change: Understanding the Human Dimensions, National Academy Press, 1992). Not only is the topic important in its own right, the commons is also a central theme in studies of international cooperation, environmental decision making, and the design of resource management institutions. Its importance is highlighted in the International Human Dimensions Programme’s science plans on Land Use and Land Cover Change (www.uni-bonn.de/ihdp/lucc) and Institutional Dimensions of Global Environmental Change (www.dartmouth.edu/~idgec) . So the commons is at the center of the international research agenda on the human dimensions of global change. The importance of the topic is one reason the National Research Council has undertaken a review of knowledge about the commons at this time. Another reason is that it has been 15 years since the Council completed the work of its Panel on the Study of Common Property Resource Management. That work, as discussed in Chapter 1, marked a turning point in the history of research on commons—it marked the emergence of a self-conscious interdisciplinary and international research community focused on understanding commons. After 15 productive years of research since that early synthetic effort, we felt it appropriate to reexamine and reintegrate what had been learned.
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The Drama of the Commons The committee is very pleased to have received support from the U.S. National Science Foundation to conduct this study. We began by commissioning a series of papers that were presented at the 8th Meeting of the International Association for the Study of Common Property in June 2000 at Indiana University. That meeting provided an excellent venue for discussing the work in progress with an international, interdisciplinary group of experts on the commons. Support from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund allowed us to hold a follow-up meeting of the authors and editors at the Pocantico Center in Tarrytown, New York in September 2000. We believe the result of our project is a rich series of papers that review what we know about the commons, integrate what in the past have been somewhat disparate literatures, and point directions for the future. We hope this volume achieves several goals. First, for those not familiar with the rich literature since Hardin’s seminal 1968 paper, we hope it provides a sound grounding in what we have learned and shows how and where knowledge has advanced since Hardin proposed his model. Second, for researchers already working in the field, we hope it provides a broad state-of-the-art review and shows connections and gaps in knowledge that may not have been obvious in the past. Third, for researchers and those funding research, we believe it conveys a sense of pride in what has been accomplished with relatively modest funding and indicates priorities for future work. Finally, although not a management handbook, we hope it provides some guidance to those who design and manage institutions dealing with the commons and makes it easier for them to base their decisions on the best available science. On behalf of the committee, I wish to thank the National Science Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund for their support of this project and the staff and students of the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University, who hosted the project participants in Indiana and have provided assistance at various stages in the project. The committee’s gratitude goes to Brian Tobachnick, who managed the logistics of the project during its early stages and to Deborah Johnson, who carried it the rest of the way. We also owe a debt to Laura Penny, who did the copy editing, and to Yvonne Wise, who managed the review and editorial processes. I wish to thank the following individuals for their participation in the review of the papers in this volume: James Acheson, Indiana University; Robert Axelrod, University of Michigan; Susan Buck, University of North Carolina, Greensboro; Susan Hanna, Oregon State University; Peter Haas, University of Massachusetts; Kai Lee, Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts; Gary Libecap, University of Arizona; Margaret McKean, Duke University; Ruth Meinzen-Dick, International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, DC; Ronald Mitchell, Stanford University; Emilio Moran, Indiana University; Granger Morgan, Carnegie Mellon University; Edward Parson, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University; Pauline Peters, Harvard University; Charles Plott, Cali-
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The Drama of the Commons fornia Technical Institute; Lore Ruttan, Indiana University; Edella Schlager, University of Arizona; Robert Stavins, Harvard University; Mark Van Vugt, University of Southhampton, England; James Walker, Indiana University; and Rick Wilson, Rice University. Although the individuals listed provided constructive comments and suggestions, it must be emphasized that the final responsibility for the content of this book rests with the authors and editors. Thomas Dietz, Chair Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change
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The Drama of the Commons Contents INTRODUCTION 1 1 The Drama of the Commons Thomas Dietz, Nives Dolšsak, Elinor Ostrom, and Paul C. Stern 3 PART I: RESOURCE USERS, RESOURCE SYSTEMS, AND BEHAVIOR IN THE DRAMA OF THE COMMONS 37 2 Common Resources and Institutional Sustainability Arun Agrawal 41 3 Unequal Irrigators: Heterogeneity and Commons Management in Large-Scale Multivariate Research Pranab Bardhan and Jeff Dayton-Johnson 87 4 Factors Influencing Cooperation in Commons Dilemmas: A Review of Experimental Psychological Research Shirli Kopelman, J. Mark Weber, and David M. Messick 113 5 Appropriating the Commons: A Theoretical Explanation Armin Falk, Ernst Fehr, and Urs Fischbacher 157 PART II: PRIVATIZATION AND ITS LIMITATIONS 193 6 The Tradable Permits Approach to Protecting the Commons: What Have We Learned? Tom Tietenberg 197
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The Drama of the Commons 7 Common Property, Regulatory Property, and Environmental Protection: Comparing Community-Based Management to Tradable Environmental Allowances Carol M. Rose 233 PART III: CROSS-SCALE LINKAGES AND DYNAMIC INTERACTIONS 259 8 Institutional Interplay: The Environmental Consequences of Cross-Scale Interactions Oran R. Young 263 9 Cross-Scale Institutional Linkages: Perspectives from the Bottom Up Fikret Berkes 293 PART IV: EMERGING ISSUES 323 10 Scientific Uncertainty, Complex Systems, and the Design of Common-Pool Institutions James Wilson 327 11 Emergence of Institutions for the Commons: Contexts, Situations, and Events Bonnie J. McCay 361 12 An Evolutionary Theory of Commons Management Peter J. Richerson, Robert Boyd, and Brian Paciotti 403 CONCLUSION 443 13 Knowledge and Questions After 15 Years of Research Paul C. Stern, Thomas Dietz, Nives Dolšak, Elinor Ostrom, and Susan Stonich 445 ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS 491 INDEX 499