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Property Rights Regimes and Natural Resources: A Conceptual Analysis Revisited


  • Sikor, Thomas
  • He, Jun
  • Lestrelin, Guillaume


More than two decades ago, Schlager and Ostrom (1992) developed ‘a conceptual schema for arraying property-rights regimes that distinguishes among diverse bundles of rights’. The conceptual framework has profoundly influenced research on natural resource governance, common property, and community resource management. However, currently natural resource governance has changed dramatically, challenging the applicability of the conceptual schema. There are now many more social actors involved in resource management than the local communities at the focus of original analysis. Additionally, resource management increasingly provides access to various kinds of benefits from outside the immediate context, including indirect benefits such as payments for environmental services and results-based payments for REDD+. These changes demand addition of new property rights to the original framework. This paper updates the conceptual schema in reaction to changes in natural resource governance, proposing three specific modifications on the focus of use rights, control rights and authoritative rights to come up with a framework that distinguishes eight types of property rights. We apply the framework to three purposefully selected governance interventions in China and Laos that include the provision of indirect benefits in addition to the direct benefits derived by local people from natural resources. The empirical application shows how contemporary governance changes may not lead to local people’s outright dispossession, since they continue to possess direct use rights to natural resources. However, local people may be excluded from control and authoritative rights, which are exercised exclusively by state agencies and international actors. The latter make available indirect benefits to local people, which may or may not translate into use rights in the sense of policy-based entitlements. The empirical insights suggest the possibility of a wider trend of ‘compensated exclusions’ in natural resource governance.

Suggested Citation

  • Sikor, Thomas & He, Jun & Lestrelin, Guillaume, 2017. "Property Rights Regimes and Natural Resources: A Conceptual Analysis Revisited," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 337-349.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:93:y:2017:i:c:p:337-349
    DOI: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2016.12.032

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Gustafsson, Maria-Therese & Scurrah, Martin, 2019. "Strengthening subnational institutions for sustainable development in resource-rich states: Decentralized land-use planning in Peru," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 133-144.
    2. Ali, Amjad & Zulfiqar, Kalsoom, 2018. "An Assessment of Association between Natural Resources Agglomeration and Unemployment in Pakistan," MPRA Paper 87968, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Poncian, Japhace & Jose, Jim, 2019. "National resource ownership and community engagement in Tanzania's natural gas governance," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 133(C).
    4. Punjabi, Bharat & Johnson, Craig A., 2019. "The politics of rural–urban water conflict in India: Untapping the power of institutional reform," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 182-192.
    5. Buckley, R.C. & Guitart, D. & Shakeela, A., 2017. "Contested surf tourism resources in the Maldives," Annals of Tourism Research, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 185-199.
    6. Kansanga, Moses Mosonsieyiri & Luginaah, Isaac, 2019. "Agrarian livelihoods under siege: Carbon forestry, tenure constraints and the rise of capitalist forest enclosures in Ghana," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 131-142.
    7. Erbaugh, James T., 2019. "Responsibilization and social forestry in Indonesia," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 109(C).
    8. Theesfeld, Insa, 2018. "From Land to Water Grabbing: A Property Rights Perspective on Linked Natural Resources," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 154(C), pages 62-70.
    9. Dhiaulhaq, Ahmad & McCarthy, John F. & Yasmi, Yurdi, 2018. "Resolving industrial plantation conflicts in Indonesia: Can mediation deliver?," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 64-72.
    10. Ida Nadia S. Djenontin & Samson Foli & Leo C. Zulu, 2018. "Revisiting the Factors Shaping Outcomes for Forest and Landscape Restoration in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Way Forward for Policy, Practice and Research," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(4), pages 1-34, March.
    11. Audi, Marc & Ali, Amjad, 2019. "Aggregate and Disaggregate Natural Resources Agglomeration and Foreign Direct Investment in France," MPRA Paper 93460, University Library of Munich, Germany.


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