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Institutional Capacity And The Resolution Of A Commons Dilemma


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  • William Blomquist
  • Elinor Ostrom


This article concerns the dynamic process of resolving a commons dilemma without an externally imposed solution. We focus on two approaches: a model by Lewis and Cowens (1983) that yields a cooperative private arranghent that incorporates voluntarily chosen public institutions as instruments facilitating a resolution of the commons dilemma. The conditions necessary to Lewis and Cowen's result-a Itresolution without institutions-are contrasted with Ilinstitutional capacity" conditions treated as variables that may take on values enhancing the possibility of resolution. This latter approach yields certain advantages: less extreme assumptions, greater descriptive relevance, and the possibility of a variety of actual resolutions. A description of the case of West Basin in Southern California offers an example of the interaction of institutional capacity with participants' actions to produce a successful resolution of a commons dilemma. Copyright 1985 by The Policy Studies Organization.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Policy Studies Organization in its journal Review of Policy Research.

Volume (Year): 5 (1985)
Issue (Month): 2 (November)
Pages: 383-394

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Handle: RePEc:bla:revpol:v:5:y:1985:i:2:p:383-394

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Cited by:
  1. Ringa Raudla, 2010. "Governing budgetary commons: what can we learn from Elinor Ostrom?," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, Springer, vol. 30(3), pages 201-221, December.
  2. Alexandros Maziotis & Elisa Calliari & Jaroslav Mysiak, 2013. "Robust Institutions for Sustainable Water Markets: A Survey of the Literature and the Way Forward," Working Papers, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei 2013.58, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  3. Roger Attwater, 1997. "Property entitlements and land reform in upland Thai catchments," Working Papers in Ecological Economics, Australian National University, Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies, Ecological Economics Program 9704, Australian National University, Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies, Ecological Economics Program.
  4. Kimmich, Christian, 2013. "Linking action situations: Coordination, conflicts, and evolution in electricity provision for irrigation in Andhra Pradesh, India," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 150-158.
  5. Agrawal, Arun, 2001. "Common Property Institutions and Sustainable Governance of Resources," World Development, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 29(10), pages 1649-1672, October.


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