Governing the Commons: The evolution of Institutions for Collective Action

Ostrom, E. (1990). Governing the commons: The evolution of institutions for collective action. Cambridge university press.


“When individuals who have high discount rates and little mutual trust act independently, without the capacity to communicate, to enter into binding agreements, and to arrange for monitoring and enforcing mechanisms, they are not likely to choose jointly beneficial strategies (…)” (Ostrom, 1990). This is the classic collective action dilemma and Elinor Ostrom’s Governing the Commons shows when and how this situation can be overcome for a variety of collective action problems involving common-pool resources. For those seeking alternative arrangements and local solutions between the market and the state, this book is an inspiring source. Also, her design principles give some practical guidance for setting up collective governance arrangements.

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