Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action
Elinor Ostrom's book is based on exhaustive, detailed, and original research dealing with the management of water as a resource distinguished by use and scale of the resource. It is a scientifically grounded examination of the effects of institutions to "cope" with the "common property resource" (CPR) problem. Ostrom's book is part of a series of Cambridge University Press books on the political economy of institutions and decisions. The focus of the series is on the central questions: (1) how do institutions evolve in response to individual incentives, strategies, and choices?; and (2) how do institutions affect the performance of political and economic systems'?
The book is timely, well-written, and a useful addition to our understanding of the challenges of natural resource management. It is based on case studies which attempt to identify the elements that lead to the survivorship over time of water management institutions. Case studies incorporating extended fieldwork were selected using the following criteria: (1) the structure of the resource management system; (2) the attributes and behavior of the appropriators (defined as those who obtain the benefits) of the CPR; (3) the rules that the appropriators were using; and (4) the outcome resulting from the behavior of the...