IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/wdi/papers/1997-40.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Tragedy of the Anticommons: Property in the Transiton from Marx to Markets

Author

Listed:
  • Michael Heller

Abstract

Why are many storefronts in Moscow empty while street kiosks in front are full of goods? This article develops a theory of anticommons property to help explain the puzzle of empty storefronts and full kiosks. Anticommons property can be understood as the mirror image of commons property. By definition, in a commons, multiple owners are each endowed with the privilege to use a given resource, and no one has the right to exclude another. When too many owners have such privileges of use, the resource is prone to overuse -- a tragedy of the commons. In an anticommons, by my definition, multiple owners are each endowed with the fight to exclude others from a scarce resource, and no one has an effective privilege of use. When there are too many owners holding rights of exclusion, the resource is prone to underuse -- a tragedy of the anticommons. Anticommons property may appear whenever new property rights are being defined. For example in Moscow, multiple owners have been endowed initially with competing rights in each storefront, so no owner holds a useable bundle of rights and the store remains empty. Once an anticommons has emerged, collecting rights into private property bundles can be brutal and slow. This article explores the dynamics of anticommons property in transition economies, formalizes the empirical material in a property theory framework, and then shows how the idea of anticommons property can be a useful new tool for understanding a range of property puzzles. The difficulties of overcoming a tragedy of the anticommons suggest that property theofists n-fight pay more attention to the content of property bundles, rather than focusing just on the clarity of rights.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Heller, 1997. "The Tragedy of the Anticommons: Property in the Transiton from Marx to Markets," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 40, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  • Handle: RePEc:wdi:papers:1997-40
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/2027.42/39430/3/wp40.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Elise S. Brezis & Adi Schnytzer, 2003. "Wy are the transition paths in China and Eastern Europe different?," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 11(1), pages 3-23, March.
    2. Saul Estrin, 2002. "Competition and Corporate Governance in Transition," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(1), pages 101-124, Winter.
    3. Simeon Djankov & Peter Murrell, 2002. "Enterprise Restructuring in Transition: A Quantitative Survey," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, pages 739-792.
    4. Nathan Nunn, 2007. "Relationship-Specificity, Incomplete Contracts, and the Pattern of Trade," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, pages 569-600.
    5. W. Bentley MacLeod, 2007. "Reputations, Relationships, and Contract Enforcement," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(3), pages 595-628, September.
    6. Jonathan Isham & Daniel Kaufmann, 1999. "The Forgotten Rationale for Policy Reform: The Productivity of Investment Projects," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 149-184.
    7. Karla Hoff & Joseph E. Stiglitz, 2004. "After the Big Bang? Obstacles to the Emergence of the Rule of Law in Post-Communist Societies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 753-763, June.
    8. Bat Batjargal, 2007. "Network triads: transitivity, referral and venture capital decisions in China and Russia," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 38(6), pages 998-1012, November.
    9. Jiahua Che, 2009. "A Dynamic Model of Privatization with Endogenous Post-Privatization Performance," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(2), pages 563-596.
    10. J. B. Rosser-Jr. & M. Rosser., 2009. "A Critique of the New Comparative Economics," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 8.
    11. Vladimir Popov, 2007. "Shock Therapy versus Gradualism Reconsidered: Lessons from Transition Economies after 15 Years of Reforms1," Comparative Economic Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Association for Comparative Economic Studies, vol. 49(1), pages 1-31, March.
    12. Micael Castanheira, 2003. "Public finance and the optimal speed of transition," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 11(3), pages 435-462, September.
    13. Sonya Kostova Huffman & Stanley R. Johnson, 2004. "Impacts of Economic Reform in Poland: Incidence and Welfare Changes Within a Consistent Framework," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, pages 626-636.
    14. Alan A Bevan & Julian Fennema, 2003. "Finance, Restructuring and Performance in Privatised Russian Enterprises," Comparative Economic Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Association for Comparative Economic Studies, vol. 45(2), pages 117-147, June.
    15. John Marangos, 2002. "A post Keynesian critique of privatization policies in transition economies," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(5), pages 573-589.
    16. Martin Wagner & Jaroslava Hlouskova, 2005. "CEEC growth projections: Certainly necessary and necessarily uncertain," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 13(2), pages 341-372, April.
    17. Oleg Badunenko & Daniel J. Henderson & Valentin Zelenyuk, 2008. "Technological Change and Transition: Relative Contributions to Worldwide Growth During the 1990s," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 70(4), pages 461-492, August.
    18. Michael Ellman, 2005. "Transition: Intended and Unintended Processes," Comparative Economic Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Association for Comparative Economic Studies, vol. 47(4), pages 595-614, December.
    19. Andrei Shleifer & Daniel Treisman, 2005. "A Normal Country: Russia After Communism," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(1), pages 151-174, Winter.
    20. Batjargal, Bat, 2007. "Comparative Social Capital: Networks of Entrepreneurs and Venture Capitalists in China and Russia," Management and Organization Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 3(03), pages 397-419, November.
    21. Jan Svejnar, 2002. "Transition Economies: Performance and Challenges," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, pages 3-28.
    22. Marian Rizov, 2005. "Does individualization help productivity of transition agriculture?," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 33(2), pages 215-227, September.
    23. repec:aea:jeclit:v:43:y:2005:i:3:p:721-761 is not listed on IDEAS
    24. David Martimort & Philippe De Donder & Etienne Billette de Villemeur, 2005. "An Incomplete Contract Perspective on Public Good Provision," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(2), pages 149-180, April.
    25. Francesco Pastore & Alina Verashchagina, 2006. "The Distribution of Wages in Belarus," Comparative Economic Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Association for Comparative Economic Studies, vol. 48(2), pages 351-376, June.
    26. Saul Estrin & Svetlana Poukliakova & Daniel Shapiro, 2009. "The Performance Effects of Business Groups in Russia," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(3), pages 393-420, May.
    27. Christian Volpe Martincus & Andrés Gallo, 2009. "Institutions and Export Specialization: Just Direct Effects?," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(1), pages 129-149, February.
    28. Serguey Braguinsky & Roger Myerson, 2007. "A macroeconomic model of Russian transition," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 15(1), pages 77-107, March.
    29. Vasco Molini & Guanghua Wan, 2008. "Discovering sources of inequality in transition economies: a case study of rural Vietnam," Economic Change and Restructuring, Springer, vol. 41(1), pages 75-96, March.
    30. Andrei A. Levchenko, 2007. "Institutional Quality and International Trade," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(3), pages 791-819.
    31. Saul Estrin, 2003. "Measuring the Impact of Russian Privatisation at the Turn of the Century: An Introduction to the Symposium," Comparative Economic Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Association for Comparative Economic Studies, vol. 45(2), pages 109-116, June.
    32. Sergei Guriev & Andrei Rachinsky, 2005. "The Role of Oligarchs in Russian Capitalism," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(1), pages 131-150, Winter.
    33. Natalia Merkina, 2009. "Technological catch-up or resource rents?," International Economics and Economic Policy, Springer, vol. 6(1), pages 59-82, June.
    34. Ariaster B. Chimeli, 2003. "Optimal dynamics of environmental quality in economies in transition -super-1," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 11(1), pages 123-152, March.
    35. Pavlo Demchuk & Valentin Zelenyuk, 2009. "Testing differences in efficiency of regions within a country: the case of Ukraine," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 81-102, October.
    36. repec:hrv:faseco:33078568 is not listed on IDEAS
    37. Bat Batjargal, 2007. "Comparative Social Capital: Networks of Entrepreneurs and Venture Capitalists in China and Russia," Management and Organization Review, The International Association for Chinese Management Research, vol. 3(3), pages 397-419, November.
    38. Jozef Konings & Olga Kupets & Hartmut Lehmann, 2003. "Gross job flows in Ukraine," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 11(2), pages 321-356, June.
    39. Scott Rozelle & Johan F.M. Swinnen, 2004. "Success and Failure of Reform: Insights from the Transition of Agriculture," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(2), pages 404-456, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. The smartphone patent wars and competition policy
      by Paul Belleflamme in IPdigIT on 2012-04-25 12:14:41
    2. The smartphone patent wars: nothing really surprising…
      by Paul Belleflamme in IPdigIT on 2013-11-28 19:42:21

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. repec:wsi:jdexxx:v:22:y:2017:i:02:n:s1084946717500121 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Lists

    This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:
    1. Antibendruomenių tragedija in Wikipedia Lithuanian ne '')
    2. Tragedy of the anticommons in Wikipedia Simple English ne '')
    3. Tragédie des anticommuns in Wikipedia French ne '')

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wdi:papers:1997-40. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (WDI). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/wdumius.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.