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COPING WITH TRAGEDIES OF THE COMMONS

COPING WITH TRAGEDIES OF THE COMMONS Elinor Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis; Center for the Study of Institutions, Population, and Environmental Change, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana 47408-3895; e-mail: ostrom@indiana.edu
KEY WORDS: adaptive systems, polycentricity, rational choice, irrigation, forestry, fisheries
ABSTRACT Contemporary policy analysis of the governance of common-pool resources is based on three core assumptions: (a) resource users are norm-free maximizes of immediate gains, who will not cooperate to overcome the commons dilemmas they face; (b) designing rules to change incentives of participants is a relatively simple analytical task; and (c) organization itself requires central direction. The chapter shows that these assumptions are a poor foundation for policy analysis. Findings from carefully controlled laboratory experiments that challenge the first assumption are summarized. A different assumption that humans are fallible, bounded…