Semicommon Property Rights and Scattering in the Open Fields
A semicommons exists where property rights are not only a mix of common and private rights, but both are significant and can interact. The major example of a semicommons is the medieval open-field system in which peasants owned scattered strips of land for grain growing but used the land collectively for grazing. The ownership structure allowed operation on a large scale for grazing and harnessed private incentives for grain growing. But a semicommons potentially leads to problems of strategic behavior that go beyond the familiar incentives to overuse a commons. In order to raise the costs of such behavior devices such as the scattering of strips may be used to mix up entitlements. Generally, boundary placement and norms are substitute methods of addressing strategic behavior in a semicommons. Among these solutions, scattering functions as a sanction for activities associated with strategic behavior. Copyright 2000 by the University of Chicago.