Anticommons theory

Authored by: Michael Heller

Routledge Handbook of the Study of the Commons

Print publication date:  January  2019
Online publication date:  January  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138060906
eBook ISBN: 9781315162782
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter offers a concise overview of anticommons theory (see Heller 1998, 2008, 2011, collecting articles). The anticommons thesis states that when too many people own pieces of one thing, nobody can use it. Usually private ownership creates wealth. But too much ownership can have the opposite effect—it leads to wasteful underuse. This is a free-market paradox that shows up all across the global economy. If too many owners control a single resource, cooperation breaks down, wealth disappears, and everybody loses.

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