LLI+399: Monday, April 10

We are in the home stretch with course projects. Some are on schedule, some may have to be scaled back a bit, or implementation delayed. Look to the time left and ensure you have a practical timeline so the work does not get out of hand at the really busy end of the semester.

Regarding the end of the semester: See the Evaluation page: Due no later than May 9 at noon in shared folder.

My notes for Ostrom ch. 1-5 are below. For Monday’s discussion I’d like each group to take the design principles Ostrom outlined (see below for several versions) and apply them to your group’s project.

An example of this is in ch. 4 (on water governance) on page 76.

You should think on this a bit before class if you have the time.

The Uncommon Knowledge of Elinor Ostrom

Ch. 1: What’s So Tragic about the “Commons”?

  • Tragedy of the Commons: A very effective parable. Garrett Hardin (1968)
    • tragedy in terms of inevitable inabilty to escape (Greek tragedies)
    • population control, nativism, privatization: racism and human rights suppression in the name of environmental sustainability
    • Hardin’s parable was neat, plausible, and wrong
    • Ideology with little empirical, historical, tangible evidence
  • Ostrom: People can get together and collectively deal with many issues outside of institutions such as private property/economic market and heavy regulation.
  • Common-pool resources: management is tough without cooperation
  • Eight design principles as an approach to sustainable stewardship of common-pool resources
    • clearly defined boundaries
    • costs should match benefits
    • rules are made collectively by users
    • monitoring systems are in place
    • sanctions must be in place to punish violators
    • there must be conflict-resolution mechanisms
    • the system must have autonomy

Ch. 2: Los Angeles Ground Water

  • “public entrepreneurship” as an alternative
  • municipal governance: rather mundane origins of ideas with global impact
  • surfer etiquette

Ch. 3. Maine’s Lobster Gangs

  • Assumptions of Tragedy of the Commons: no one talks to each other! That just doesn’t happen.
  • Lobster governance: mix of state intervention and collective agreements

Ch. 4. Spain’s Ancient Water Court

  • how historically rooted cooperative institutions are – thousand year old Water Court
  • extensive canals, rules, court: not the work of government nor private sector
  • who looks at things like this? problem of silos in academia
  • how to study and assess these kinds of institutions – and pull out core values?
  • Ostrom’s Design Principles
    • The physical and social boundaries are clearly defined.
    • Locally tailored rules define resource access and consumption.
    • Individuals who are most affected by the rules can participate in rule making.
    • Resource monitors are accountable to resource users.
    • Graduated penalties can be imposed on rule breakers.
    • Conflict management institutions are accessible.
    • Authorities recognize a right to self-organize.
  • The principles applied to the Spanish Water System (p. 76)
  • some problems
    • commons governance works but
      • is not in the interest of institutions (capitalism) if more profit could be made under privatization
      • is not in the interest of government if controlled by private firms (capitalism) or corrupt

Ch. 5. Institutions for Collaborative Forest Management

  • “intentional communities” – utopian
    • communists!
  • Creating an agreed to a system of rules to govern a commons
  • Book: Governing the Commons (1990)
  • On not washing a rental car: you have to have some ownership stake
  • Is Ostrom’s approach too quaint, sweet, low on profits and high on ideals to really be more than a minor player in the world?

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