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The Drama of the Commons INTRODUCTION
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The Drama of the Commons This page in the original is blank.
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The Drama of the Commons 1 The Drama of the Commons Thomas Dietz, Nives Dolšak, Elinor Ostrom, and Paul C. Stern The “tragedy of the commons” is a central concept in human ecology and the study of the environment. The prototypical scenario is simple. There is a resource—usually referred to as a common-pool resource—to which a large number of people have access. The resource might be an oceanic ecosystem from which fish are harvested, the global atmosphere into which greenhouse gases are released, or a forest from which timber is harvested. Overuse of the resource creates problems, often destroying its sustainability. The fish population may collapse, climate change may ensue, or the forest might cease regrowing enough trees to replace those cut. Each user faces a decision about how much of the resource to use—how many fish to catch, how much greenhouse gases to emit, or how many trees to cut. If all users restrain themselves, then the resource can be sustained. But there is a dilemma. If you limit your use of the resources and your neighbors do not, then the resource still collapses and you have lost the short-term benefits of taking your share (Hardin, 1968). The logic of the tragedy of the commons seems inexorable. As we discuss, however, that logic depends on a set of assumptions about human motivation, about the rules governing the use of the commons, and about the character of the common resource. One of the important contributions of the past 30 years of research has been to clarify the concepts involved in the tragedy of the commons. Things are not as simple as they seem in the prototypical model. Human motivation is complex, the rules governing real commons do not always permit free access to everyone, and the resource systems themselves have dynamics that influence their response to human use. The result is often not the tragedy described by Hardin but what McCay (1995, 1996; McCay and Acheson, 1987b; see also
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The Drama of the Commons Rose, 1994) has described as a “comedy”—a drama for certain, but one with a happy ending. Three decades of empirical research have revealed many rich and complicated histories of commons management. Sometimes these histories tell of Hardin’s tragedy. Sometimes the outcome is more like McCay’s comedy. Often the results are somewhere in between, filled with ambiguity. But drama is always there. That is why we have chosen to call this book The Drama of the Com-mons—because the commons entails history, comedy, and tragedy. Research on the commons would be warranted entirely because of its practical importance. Nearly all environmental issues have aspects of the commons in them. Important theoretical reasons exist for studying the commons as well. At the heart of all social theory is the contrast between humans as motivated almost exclusively by narrow self-interest and humans as motivated by concern for others or for society as a whole.1 The rational actor model that dominates economic theory, but is also influential in sociology, political science, anthropology, and psychology, posits strict self-interest. As Adam Smith put it, “We are not ready to suspect any person of being defective in selfishness” (Smith, 1977:446). This assumption is what underpins Hardin’s analysis. Opposing views, however, have always assumed that humans take account of the interests of the group. For example, functionalist theory in sociology and anthropology, especially the human ecological arguments of Rappaport and Vayda (Rappaport, 1984; Vayda and Rappaport, 1968), argued that the “tragedy of the commons” could be averted by mechanisms that cause individuals to act in the interests of the collective good rather than with narrow self-interest. Nor has this debate been restricted to the social sciences. In evolutionary theory, arguments for adaptations that give advantage to the population or the species at cost to the individual have been under criticism at least since the 1960s (Williams, 1966). But strong arguments remain for the presence of altruism (Sober and Wilson, 1998). If we assume narrow self-interest and one-time interactions, then the tragedy of the commons is one of a set of paradoxes that follow. Another is the classical prisoners’ dilemma. In the canonical formulation, two co-conspirators are captured by the police. If neither informs on the other, they both face light sentences. If both inform, they both face long jail terms. If one informs and the other doesn’t, the informer receives a very light sentence or is set free while the noninformer receives a very heavy sentence. Faced with this set of payoffs, the narrow self-interest of each will cause both to inform, producing a result less desirable to each than if they both had remained silent. Olson (1965) made us aware that the organization of groups to pursue collective ends, such as political and policy outcomes, was vulnerable to a paradox, often called the “free-rider problem,” that had previously been identified in regard to other “public goods” (Samuelson, 1954). A public good is something to which everyone has access but, unlike a common-pool resource, one person’s use
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The Drama of the Commons of the resource does not necessarily diminish the potential for use by another. Public radio stations, scientific knowledge, and world peace are public goods in that we all enjoy the benefits without reducing the quantity or quality of the good. The problem is that, in a large group, an individual will enjoy the benefits of the public good whether or not he or she contributes to producing it. You can listen to public radio whether or not you pledge and make a contribution. And in a large population, whether or not you contribute has no real impact on the quantity of the public good. So a person following the dictates of narrow self-interest will avoid the costs of contributing. Such a person can continue to enjoy the benefits from the contributions provided by others. But if everyone follows this logic, the public good will not be supplied, or will be supplied in less quantity or quality than is ideal. Here we see the importance of the tragedy of the commons and its kin. All of the analyses just sketched presume that self-interest is the only motivator and that social mechanisms to control self-interest, such as communication, trust, and the ability to make binding agreements, are lacking or ineffective. These conditions certainly describe some interactions. People sometimes do, however, move beyond individual self-interest. Communication, trust, the anticipation of future interactions, and the ability to build agreements and rules sometimes control behavior well enough to prevent tragedy. So the drama of the commons does not always play out as tragedy. This volume examines what has been learned over decades of research into how the drama of the commons plays out. It should be of interest to people concerned with important commons such as ecosystems, water supplies, and the atmosphere. In addition, commons situations provide critically important test beds for addressing many of the central questions of the social sciences. How does our identity relate to the resources in our environment? How do we manage to live together? How do societies control individuals’ egoistic and antisocial impulses? Which social arrangements persist and which do not? In looking at the long sweep of human history and the thousands of social forms spread across it, these questions may become unmanageable to study in a systematic manner. The commons, however, provides a tractable and yet important context in which to address these questions. Just as evolutionary and developmental biology progressed by studying the fruitfly, Drosophila melanogaster, an organism well suited to the tools available, we suggest that studies of the commons and related problems are an ideal test bed for many key questions in the social sciences.2 As is evident in the chapters of this volume, commons research already draws on most of the methodological traditions of the social sciences. There are elegant mathematical models, carefully designed laboratory experiments, and meticulous historical and comparative case studies. The statistical tools applicable to large or moderate-sized data sets also are being brought to bear. As we will detail, research on the commons attracts scientists from a great diversity of disciplines and from all regions of the world. Advances in the social sciences are likely to come
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The Drama of the Commons from just such an admixture of methods and perspectives focused on a problem that touches on core theoretical issues of great practical importance. This volume presents a series of papers that review and synthesize what we know about the commons, integrating what in the past have been somewhat disparate literatures and pointing directions for the future. It has several goals. First, for those not familiar with the rich literature since Hardin’s 1968 article, it is intended to provide a sound grounding in what has been learned. Second, for researchers in the field, it offers a state-of-the-art review that spans the field and shows connections that may not have been obvious in the past. Third, for researchers and those funding research, it conveys a sense of what has been accomplished with relatively modest funding and indicates the priorities for future work. Finally, although it is not a management handbook, it provides some guidance to those who design and manage institutions dealing with the commons by compiling the best available science for informing their choices. This chapter offers a brief history of research on the commons, starting with Hardin’s influence but also acknowledging his predecessors. It describes the synthetic work that occurred in the mid-1980s. Building on that work, it clarifies the key concepts involved in understanding the commons. One of the major contributions of commons scholarship has been to make much clearer which concepts must be brought to bear and which distinctions made in understanding the commons. These include the crucial distinction between the resource itself, the arrangements humans use to govern access to the resources, and the key properties of the resource and the arrangements that drive the drama. The chapter concludes by sketching the plan of the book. A SHORT INTELLECTUAL HISTORY OF THE FIELD A Point of Departure Hardin’s influential 1968 article in Science on “The Tragedy of the Commons” is one of the most often-cited scientific papers written in the second half of the twentieth century. The article stimulated immense intellectual interest across both the natural and social sciences,3 extensive debate, and a new interdisciplinary field of study. Scientific interest in the commons grew throughout the 1970s and early 1980s largely in reaction to Hardin’s article and the frightening news stories about sharp population declines of many species, particularly those from the ocean. Interest was fanned by the debate about limits to growth, and the increasing awareness of deforestation in tropical regions of the world. Prior to the publication of Hardin’s article, titles such as “commons,” “common-pool resources,” or “common property” appeared only 17 times in the academic literature published in English and cataloged in the “Common-Pool Resource Bibliography” maintained by Hess at Indiana University.4 Between that time and 1984, before the Annapolis, Maryland conference organized by the Na-
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The Drama of the Commons tional Research Council (NRC) Panel on Common Property Resource Management, the number of such titles had grown to 115. The Annapolis conference in 1985 brought together a large number of scientists from different fields and different nations to examine common-pool resources and their management.5 The conference provided an opportunity for scholars to synthesize what was known in disparate disciplines as of 1985—which we summarize briefly in this chapter. This conference and several others held at about the same time stimulated even greater interest in the commons. From 1985 to 1990, the number of scholarly works on the commons more than doubled to 275. In the next 5 years (1991-1995), they nearly doubled again to 444 articles. Between 1996 and 2000, 573 new articles appeared on the commons. In 1990, the International Association for the Study of Common Property (IASCP) was officially established. Its first meeting at Duke University was attended by 150 scholars from multiple disciplines. As can be seen from Figure 1-1, a substantial increase of interest in this field has brought an ever greater number of scholars to the IASCP meetings. By 2000, more than 600 scholars attended these meetings. A key characteristic in the field, in addition to its rapid growth, is the extraordinary extent of interdisciplinary and international participation. For example, scholars from a dozen disciplines and 52 countries attended the 2000 meeting of the IASCP. Although such broad participation challenges all involved to find FIGURE 1-1 Attendance at IASCP meetings.
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The Drama of the Commons shared concepts and common technical language, the results have been well worth the effort. Early Work on the Commons Although Hardin’s article was the fulcrum for recent work on common-pool resources, scholars long before Hardin had expressed pessimism about the sustainable management of these resources. Aristotle observed that “what is common to the greatest number has the least care bestowed upon it. Everyone thinks chiefly of his own, hardly at all of the common interest” (Politics, Book II, ch. 3). The French naturalist, Marcet (1819) wrote in Conversations on Political Economy (1819, cited in Baumol and Oates, 1988) that open access to natural resources results in overexploitation of those resources and harvesting of the resources prior to their harvest time. Lloyd (1977 ), whose work strongly influenced Hardin, similarly argued that a common-pool resource will be overused because of the higher value of present benefits of use compared to potential future costs of unrestricted use, especially when each individual user bears only a fraction of those costs but gains the entirety of present benefits. Further, Lloyd argued that an individual’s decisions regarding whether to withdraw another unit from a common-pool resource (in Lloyd’s analysis, whether to have another child) depends on the institutions that define the benefits and costs of such action. Less pessimistic voices were raised earlier as well. In his classic study of Indian villages, the township in England and Scotland, and the complex, early village structures of Germany (the Mark) and Russia (the mir), Maine (1871) argued that village communities occur everywhere and facilitate their subsistence by allocating agricultural lands as private property and forest and pastures surrounding arable lands as common property. In describing the German version, Maine (1871:10) asserted: “The Township (I state the matter in my own way) was an organized, self-acting group of Teutonic families, exercising a common proprietorship over a definite tract of land, its Mark, cultivating its domain on a common system, and sustaining itself by the product.” In an in-depth analysis of Maine’s work, Grossi (1981) argues that Maine had identified how village communities in many settings had developed a keen sense of private property for agricultural plots combined with a common-property system for forested and pasture lands. Malinowski (1926) cautioned readers not to believe that any kind of property regime—including common property with joint owners—was a “simple” system that could be characterized as having only one set of consequences. He pointed out that: Ownership, therefore, can be defined neither by such words as “communism” nor “individualism,” nor by reference to “joint-stock company” system or “personal enterprise,” but by the concrete facts and conditions of use. It is the sum of duties, privileges, and mutualities which bind the joint owners to the object and to each other. (1926:21)
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The Drama of the Commons Early Formal Analyses of the Commons by Resource Economists The influential work of Gordon (1954) and Schaefer (1957) drew attention to the economic factors in the management of one type of common-pool resource— fisheries. Gordon and Schaefer modeled the effect of fishing effort (the quantity of fish harvested from a fishery) on ecologically sustainable yields as well as calculating the economic results of varying levels of effort. The so-called Gordon-Schaefer model has dominated the study and execution of fisheries management since the 1950s. Both scholars assumed that at low levels of fishing effort in a newly opened fishery, yield increases rapidly as a function of effort but with diminishing returns as more effort is needed to harvest additional units of fish. Beyond the “maximum sustainable yield,” however, further increases in harvesting would result in a decrease of total harvest and revenue because replenishment of the fish stock was presumed to depend on the size of the current fish stock, which falls below the level necessary for full replacement once fishing extracts more than this yield. By including the revenue occurring from fishing (yield times the fish price) and the costs of fishing effort, they defined the “maximum economic yield,” that is, the fishing effort at which the difference between fishing revenue and costs is maximum, and the level of the fishing effort under open access. The relationships they described are illustrated in Figure 1-2. As shown in Figure 1-2, the underlying relationship between fishing effort measured on the horizontal axis and cost measured on the vertical axis is linear, while the relationship to revenue, also measured on the vertical axis, is curvilinear. This is due to the presumed basic biological relationships involved in determining maximum sustainable yield. Yield increases with effort until the maximum sustainable yield is reached; beyond that, the fish stock can replenish only at a lower rate—the population is simply drawn down. Whether the population is sustainable depends on the behavior of the harvesters. If no rules exist related to access or amount of harvest (an open access situation), the equilibrium is a harvest rate that is larger than either the maximum sustainable yield (in biological terms) or the maximum economic yield (the harvest that yields the maximum difference between prices obtained and costs of fishing effort) (see Figure 1-2). This is because each fisher takes into account only the costs of his or her own effort and not the increased costs that individual effort imposes on others. The maximum economic yield (achievable if the rules regulating access and harvesting practices limit effort to the economically optimal strategy) turns out to be less than the biologically maximum sustainable yield. Based on this analysis, resource economists argued strongly that fisheries and other common-pool resources would be better managed by a single owner—preferably a private owner. Government ownership was, however, consistent with their argument. The single owner could then determine the maximum economic yield and manage the resource so as to obtain that yield (see, e.g., Crutchfield, 1964; Demsetz, 1967; Johnson, 1972).
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The Drama of the Commons FIGURE 1-2 Relationships among fishing effort, cost, and revenue. SOURCE: Townsend and Wilson (1987:317). Reprinted with permission. NOTE: Total revenue, TR; total cost, TC; level of fishing effort; E; maximum economic yield, MEY; maximum sustainable yield; MSY; open access, OA. Profit is revenue minus cost and is represented by the vertical distance between the total revenue and total cost curves at any particular level of effort. Gordon’s and Schaefer’s work emphasized the use of biological science and microeconomics in policy design. However, the science of fish population dynamics was not as well established as the Gordon-Schaefer model presumed. In particular, not all scientists accepted the underlying presumption of the “maximum sustainable yield” concept, that the stocks of adult fish and the regeneration rate in one time period depended only on the catching effort of the prior period. Gordon himself noted this. “Large broods, however, do not appear to depend on large numbers of adult spawners, and this lends support to the belief that the fish population is entirely unaffected by the activity of man” (Gordon, 1954:126). Wilson (Chapter 10) discusses why alternative views were ignored for so many years and argues that the quality of knowledge, scientific uncertainty, and the knowledge of nonscientists are important variables in common-pool resource management. Many policy innovations of the 1960s and 1970s were based on the early
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The Drama of the Commons work of resource economists and consistent with Hardin’s thesis that “freedom in a commons brings ruin to all” (Hardin, 1968:1244). This literature stressed the importance of unitary ownership—including privatization as well as government ownership. However, the major policy innovation of this era was legislation in many countries—particularly developing countries—that transferred forests, pasture land, in-shore fisheries, and other natural resources from their previous property rights regimes to government ownership (see Arnold and Campbell, 1986). Extensive research and experience since 1968 shows that these transfers of property rights were sometimes disastrous for the resources they were intended to protect. Instead of creating a single owner with a long-term interest in the resource, nationalizing common-pool resources typically led to (1) a rejection of any existing indigenous institutions—making the actions of local stewards to sustain a resource illegal; (2) poor monitoring of resource boundaries and harvesting practices because many governments did not have the resources to monitor the resources to which they asserted ownership; and (3) de facto open access conditions and a race to use of the resources. Thus, the presumption that government ownership was one of two universally applicable “solutions” to the “tragedy” was seriously challenged by these historical experiences. Hardin’s Model and Its Limitations Hardin argued that a “man is locked into a system that compels him to increase his herd without limit—in a world that is limited” (Hardin, 1968:1244). He further asserted that having a conscience was self-eliminating.6 Those who restrain their use of a common-pool resource lose out economically in comparison to those who continue unrestrained use. Thus, evolutionary processes will select for those who exercise unrestrained use and against those who restrain their own harvesting. Hardin’s solution was “mutually agreed upon” coercion. Two inferences were usually drawn from this formulation. One is that only what psychologists call aversive (coercive) controls can be effective, suggesting that effective rules cannot be based on creating internalized norms or obligations in resource users. The other is that agreements on rules must be reached only through the state (usually, the national government), suggesting that local governments and informal and nongovernmental institutions cannot develop effective ways to prevent or remedy situations that lead to tragedy (Gibson, 2001). Challenges to the conceptual underpinnings, to the empirical validity, to the theoretical adequacy, and to the generalizability of Hardin’s model and the related work in resource economics were articulated throughout the 1970s and early 1980s. A key challenge to the Hardin model came from researchers familiar with diverse common property institutions in the field. They argued that Hardin had seriously confused the concept of common property with open access conditions where no rules existed to limit entry and use. As Ciriacy-Wantrup and Bishop (1975:715) expressed it, “common property is not everyone’s property.” They
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The Drama of the Commons benefits either on the basis of the relationship between individuals’ contributions to an effort and the benefits they derive or on the basis of their differential abilities to pay. Beyond efficiency, sustainability, and equity, criteria such as accountability and adaptability are frequently invoked. No institutional arrangement is likely to perform well on all evaluative criteria at all times. Thus, in practice, some tradeoff among performance criteria is usually involved. Economic efficiency has frequently dominated the policy debate, but concerns of equity and sustainability of the resource may be more important to those directly affected by policy proposals. STRUCTURE OF THE BOOK An overview of a vibrant field of research can be organized in many ways. We have chosen to begin with chapters that review the most venerable traditions of research in the field and that at the same time display the diversity of methodological and theoretical tools that have been used to understand the commons. We hope this will give the reader a sense of the highly interdisciplinary and stimulating nature of the literature. We then move toward emerging topics in the commons literature, including the interplay between markets and other commons institutions and the problem of understanding the evolving relationships among local, national, and global institutions. Finally, we move to problems and approaches that are just on the horizon but that we believe will be central to any review of our understanding of the commons a decade hence. In our final chapter, we attempt to synthesize and suggest key problems for further research. Chapters 2 through 12 provide reviews of key issues affecting the governance of common-pool resources. Generally, Chapters 2 through 9 summarize knowledge that has been developed in research over the past 15 years, while Chapters 10 through 12 give more emphasis to important issues that research has uncovered but that have not yet received detailed examination. Chapters 2 through 5 are based on knowledge developed from quite different research methods. Agrawal (Chapter 2) examines the evidence regarding a number of empirical generalizations that have been proposed about the operation of institutions for managing common-pool resources. The chapter relies on evidence from structured qualitative case comparisons involving moderately large numbers of resource management institutions. Bardhan and Dayton-Johnson (Chapter 3) focus on the effects of heterogeneity among resource users, drawing evidence from quantitative analyses of irrigation systems. Kopelman, Weber, and Messick (Chapter 4) examine the effects of attributes of resource users, their groups, and the tasks they face by reviewing findings from experimental studies involving simulated common-pool resource users. Falk, Fehr, and Fischbacher (Chapter 5) use formal game theory to develop simple models that can generate empirically observed phenomena from a few behavioral assumptions. In addition to addressing important substantive issues in the theory of common-pool resource use, these
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The Drama of the Commons chapters illustrate the variety of disciplines and research approaches that are contributing to knowledge in the field and the kinds of knowledge that can come from these disciplines and approaches. Chapters 6 and 7 focus on what has been learned from policy experiments with two classes of property rights regimes: tradable environmental allowances and community property. Tietenberg (Chapter 6) examines the variety of tradable permits arrangements that have been used to govern air and water emissions and access rights in fisheries. He discusses both expectations from economic theory and results in practice, summarizes the factors associated with variations in outcomes, and discusses possible reasons for the observed outcomes. Rose (Chapter 7) considers tradable environmental allowances and common property as ideal types of property rights and offers a number of empirically based hypotheses about the conditions favoring success of each institutional type. Chapters 8 and 9 address key issues of scale and linkage across institutions. Young (Chapter 8) presents a classification of cross-scale linkages and examines the evidence on their operation in land use and sea use. He offers conclusions about the strengths and weaknesses of larger and smaller scale units and the tradeoffs involved in vesting powers at the different scales. Berkes (Chapter 9) draws on the case literature to discuss conditions under which involvement by the state facilitates or impedes the operation of local institutions. He then discusses several institutional forms with the potential to improve cross-scale linkages. Chapters 10 through 12 raise issues that have not as yet received the concerted research attention they deserve. Wilson (Chapter 10) discusses the history of scientific fisheries management to raise issues about the appropriate roles of standard science and local knowledge in resource management and about the effect of scientific uncertainty on the ability to use deterministic scientific models as a main management tool. McCay (Chapter 11) addresses several issues of process that have not received much research attention in the literature on common-pool resources, though they have received attention in other contexts. These include getting environmental issues on the agendas of decision-making bodies, the conflict management roles of institutions, problems of deliberative process in environmental institutions, and the uses of incremental change in resource management. Richerson, Boyd, and Paciotti (Chapter 12) discuss resource management institutions from the perspective of cultural evolutionary theory. They present a dual inheritance theory of culture that is applicable to institutions, discuss how important empirical regularities about commons institutions fit this theory, and identify a set of as-yet unexplored hypotheses that flow from the theory. Finally, Chapter 13 provides an overview of the current state of knowledge about the potential of institutional design to help human groups avoid tragedies of the commons. It characterizes the development of common-pool resource management as a research field, summarizes some key substantive lessons that have been learned to date, and identifies the practical challenges of institutional design
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The Drama of the Commons that have been uncovered by research. Finally, it suggests directions for future research, including further development of some ongoing lines of research and new attention to four critical but understudied issues: understanding the dynamics of resource management institutions, extending insights to more kinds of common-pool resources, understanding the effects of context on institutions, and understanding the operation of linkages across institutions. NOTES 1 In thinking about environmental concern, it has been useful to distinguish self-interest, concern with the welfare of other humans, and concern with other species, ecosystems, and the biosphere itself (Stern et al., 1993). 2 In a parallel argument, Axelrod (1997) suggests that game theory provides an Escherichia coli for the social sciences—an ideal experimental organism. We prefer the analogy to Drosophila melanogaster. E. coli has been studied primarily in the laboratory. Drosophila has been investigated both in the laboratory and in the field, and has been a key organism for making the link between the two (Dobzhansky et al., 1977; Rubin and Lewis, 2000). Thus it provides a closer parallel to the role the problem of the commons plays in the social sciences. 3 See Hardin’s own discussion of the impact of his earlier article (Hardin, 1998). 4 The first bibliography on common-pool resources was started in 1985 by Martin (1989, 1992). In 1993 Hess developed a computerized database on common-pool resources and incorporated the earlier citations. She has continued building the bibliographic database through systematic searches (Hess, 1996a, 1996b, 1999). As of April 2001, 29,800 citations were in the Common-Pool Resources database. A searchable online version of this database is available at: http://www.indiana.edu/~iascp/Iforms/searchcpr.html. 5 This conference was cosponsored by the National Research Council, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Ford Foundation, and the World Wildlife Fund. At about the same time as the NRC Panel on Common Property Resource Management was organized, Acheson and McCay organized two symposia and one workshop to bring together anthropologists from diverse subfields to examine the meaning of the concept “the commons” and to draw on the tools of sociocultural, economic, and ecological anthropology to examine basic questions of the commons (see McCay and Acheson, 1987b). 6 Hardin’s argument is quite similar to the position held until recently by most evolutionary theorists: that selfish strategies would always obtain higher returns than reciprocal or cooperative strategies and drive out through competition any strategies other than selfish strategies. However, this view is losing its dominance. See Sober and Wilson (1998) and the discussion in Chapter 12. 7 A “game of chicken” can be illustrated with two drivers rapidly driving toward each other in a single lane. They both realize they will collide unless at least one swerves, so that they miss each other. Each prefers that the other swerves. The choice facing each is to go straight or swerve. If both go straight, they crash. The best joint outcome is for one to go straight and the other to swerve, but one player obtains more than the other in this outcome. The “assurance game” (also called “stag hunt”) can be illustrated with two hunters following a stag. Catching the stag requires a joint effort of both, which yields the best joint outcomes. When a rabbit approaches the two hunters, they both face a temptation to catch a rabbit, which either can do alone, rather than chasing a stag with the uncertain help of the other. Going jointly for a stag is surely rational, but if the hunters have any reasons to doubt the effort of each other, then it is better to turn and start hunting a rabbit. For detailed discussion of the differences among these three types of games as applied to common-pool resources, see Ostrom et al. (1994). 8 The panel was composed of Daniel W. Bromley, David H. Feeny, Jere L. Gilles, William T.
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The Drama of the Commons Gladstone, Barbara J. Lausche, Margaret A. McKean, Ronald J. Oakerson, Elinor Ostrom, Pauline E. Peters, C. Ford Runge, and James T. Thomson. 9 It is hoped that the revisits can be scheduled at least every 5 years so as to observe changes in forest extent, biomass, and biodiversity as well as any demographic, economic, or institutional change that may have occurred (see Ostrom, 1998). 10 This is, of course, an analytical distinction. Behaviorally, an individual faces a resource and the institutions that are used to manage that resource (if any) at the same time, so the attributes that affect individual choice are derived from both the resource and the institutions. In examining theory and in proposing policies, the distinction is important because interventions are far more likely in regard to the institutional variables than in regard to the underlying attributes of the resource. 11 Given the wide diversity of rules used in practice, each of these categories includes very diverse institutions. The classification is a first cut and analysts will find it useful for some purposes. For others, one needs to know precisely the rules being used for controlling access and making other choices about the resource. 12 Schnaiberg (1980) discusses the use of the biophysical environment as a source or as a sink. 13 This attribute was posed initially by Samuelson (1954) as a way to divide the world of goods into two classes: private consumption goods and public consumption goods. Private goods are subtractable, public goods are not. 14 Musgrave, like Samuelson (1954), also used one attribute—exclusion—as a way of dividing the world into two types of goods: private and public. Having demonstrated that the market had desirable properties when used in relationship to private goods, a key theoretical debate among economists during the 1950s focused on the question of conditions leading to market failure. For some time, scholars tried to classify all goods, resources, and services into those that could be called “private goods” and were best provided by a market and those that could be called “public goods” and were best provided by a government. The recognition that there were multiple attributes of goods and resources that affect the incentives facing users came about gradually as the dichotomies posed by Samuelson and Musgrave proved to be theoretically inadequate to the task of predicting the effect of institutional arrangements (see Chamberlin, 1974; Ostrom and Ostrom, 1977; Taylor, 1987). 15 See Schlager and Ostrom (1992) for a discussion of the bundle of rights that may be involved in the use of common-pool resources. 16 As already noted, cost of exclusion is only partially an attribute of the resource. Although resource characteristics matter (e.g., exclusion is more difficult in an ocean fishery than in a lake), cost of exclusion also is affected by available technology and various other attributes of user groups and their institutions. 17 Keohane and Ostrom (1995), for example, focus on four types of heterogeneity: heterogeneity in capabilities, in preferences, in information and beliefs, and in institutions. In addition to these types, current debates on devising instruments for global climate change policy suggest that heterogeneity in the extent of the past use of the resource also plays an important role. REFERENCES Acheson, J.M., and J. Knight 2000 Distribution fights, coordination games, and lobster management. Comparative Studies in Society and History 42(1):209-238. Arnold, J.E.M., and J.G. Campbell 1986 Collective management of hill forests in Nepal: The community forestry development project. Pp. 425-454 in National Research Council, Proceedings of the Conference on Common Property Resource Management. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. Axelrod, R. 1984 The Evolution of Cooperation. New York: Basic Books. 1997 The Complexity of Cooperation. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
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Representative terms from entire chapter: