Some of this literature specifically addresses environmental policy and other policy conflicts (e.g., Susskind and Cruikshank, 1987; Wondolleck, 1988; Wondolleck and Yaffee, 1994).
Emergence, adaptation, and evolution of institutions. Researchers have only limited understanding of why self-organized resource institutions emerge where and when they do. We also have limited understanding of the processes that govern adaptation to changes in the institutions’ social and biophysical environments. McCay (Chapter 11) draws on theory from psychology and human ecology to address the question of emergence. Richerson et al. (Chapter 12) suggest ways in which evolutionary approaches can shed light on both emergence and adaptation, as well as other related questions. Their evolutionary approach offers a theory-based explanation of the fact that human groups create and maintain self-governing resource management institutions that is an alternative to explanations based entirely on individual self-interest. A parallel approach in the organizational ecology literature uses an evolutionary logic to understand the population dynamics of organizational forms and may also provide useful concepts and tools (Hannan and Freeman, 1989; McLaughlin, 1998). An evolutionary analysis also generates new research hypotheses, as Chapter 12 shows. It may also be useful for opening up questions such as these: What factors shape the rates of evolution of systems of socially created rules (and therefore, the ability of human groups to adapt their institutions to rapidly changing environments)? What can be done to aid human groups with slowly evolving systems of rules living in rapidly changing environments? Does diversity among institutional forms in a population of human groups offer adaptive advantages for the population compared to a uniformity of institutions, as some theorists have argued? Which features of biophysical or social environments are conducive to speciation (creation of new forms) or extinction among institutional forms?
Although the concept of common-pool resources is abstractly defined, much of the empirical base for theory consists of studies of local resources suitable for subsistence of local resource users. Over the past 15 years, researchers and practitioners have begun extending the insights from this research to other settings that fit the definition of common-pool resources but that are nevertheless quite different from those that have received the most research attention (Barkin and Shambaugh, 1999; Burger et al., 2001; Dolsšak and Ostrom, in press).
An early extension was from resource extraction settings to pollution settings. Rose (Chapter 7), Tietenberg (Chapter 6), and Young (Chapter 8) all address the extent to which pollution settings may require different institutional forms from those that work well for extraction settings. Another extension was from local to global commons, such as the atmosphere and nitrogen cycling