Managing the Commons- Eight Principles to Self-Govern | Serve Learn Sustain | Georgia Institute of Technology | Atlanta, GA

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Managing the Commons- Eight Principles to Self-Govern | Serve Learn Sustain | Georgia Institute of Technology | Atlanta, GA

Managing the Commons- Eight Principles to Self-Govern

Dan Matisoff

Dan MatisoffSLS ESSC FellowAssociate Professor

How would you define this BIG IDEA?

In 1968, Garrett Hardin postulated that humans were doomed to suboptimal outcomes, due to the tragedy of the commons. Individuals behaving rationally would lead to overconsumption and thus, collectively suboptimal outcomes. He, and many who came after, argued that the solutions to this tragedy were either privatization of a resource, or alternatively government control and top-down regulation.

But decades of research have demonstrated that local communities have demonstrated the capacity to avoid this “tragedy” through the formation of institutions that are collectively designed, monitored, and enforced. In Elinor Ostrom’s seminal book “Governing the Commons” she argues that by forming institutions that follow 8 principles can allow communities to avoid the tragedy of the commons and collectively self govern collective (or “common pool”) resources.

These 8 principles are:

  1. Boundaries of users and resource are clear
  2. Congruence between benefits and costs
  3. Users had procedures for making own rules
  4. Regular monitoring of users and resource conditions
  5. Graduated sanctions
  6. Conflict resolution mechanisms
  7. Minimal recognition of rights by government
  8. Nested enterprises

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Managing the Commons- Eight Principles to Self-Govern | Serve Learn Sustain | Georgia Institute of Technology | Atlanta, GA