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The Drama of the Commons
because of its explicit emphasis on matching the scale of livelihood systems to that of the ecosystem in which the group lives.
Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) and Participatory Action Research (PAR) both focus on research that empowers local communities (Chambers, 1994). These two approaches have a great deal in common with development-empowerment organizations. In fact, many of the NGOs that operate in the development area use PRA techniques routinely in sharing information across scale. By contrast, under the rules of PAR, researchers are at the service of the community, no more, no less. There is no information-sharing mandate, nor is there a mandate for cross-scale interplay, except at the initiative of the communities themselves.
The eclectic list of institutional forms for cross-scale interaction covered in this section is no doubt incomplete. For example, where do “encompassing organizations” (McCay, this volume:Chapter 11) fit in? Different typologies may be constructed by others, perhaps related to different disciplinary perspectives in planning, sociology, anthropology, political science, development, and other areas. The main point here is that there is, in fact, a diversity of cross-scale institutional forms in existence. The task is not so much to refine this list, but to increase the size of the commons practitioner’s tool kit by showing that “co-management” can be unpacked into a range of types of linkages and institutions. In this regard, the chapter parallels Tietenberg’s (this volume:Chapter 6) effort to expand the notion of tradable permits into a range of tradable rights and institutions.
What is exciting about these developments is that nearly all of these cross-scale institutions are new. In the 1980s, there was a great deal of concern in commons circles about the demise of many commons institutions. Was it a matter of time before all local-level commons institutions were swept away by government management and inexorable open access a la Hardin? What we have found in the past two decades is that institutions are emerging at least as fast as others are disappearing, and that these include cross-scale institutions as well as local-level ones. However, we know precious little about this dynamic. Is diversity the source of creation? Is it institutional capital? There is a need for studies that focus on institutional aspects of cross-scale management. More systematic information is needed on co-management and other cross-scale institutions, their reasons for success and failure, institution building, capacity building, and the design of supportive policies.
DYNAMICS AND SCALE IN CROSS-SCALE INTERACTIONS
What promising lines of inquiry are there for new research directions? In particular, what are some of the promising venues regarding scale and dynamics in researching cross-scale institutional linkages? As a way of introducing the importance of cross-scale institutional linkages, this chapter has reviewed the