Common-pool resource appropriation and conservation

Lessons from experimental economics

Authored by: Esther Blanco , James M. Walker

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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The literature on common-pool resources (CPRs) can be viewed initially from its place in the larger literature of collective action problems often referred to as social dilemmas. As discussed in the foundational work of Mancur Olson (1965), “unless the number of individuals is quite small, or unless there is coercion or other special devices to make individuals act in their common interest, rational, self-interested individuals will not act to achieve their common or group interest.” Social dilemmas occur when individuals, as part of a group, select strategies that generate suboptimal outcomes from the perspective of the group. The problem for collective action is finding institutional and normative alternatives to overcome these undesired outcomes.

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