The following HTML text is provided to enhance online
readability. Many aspects of typography translate only awkwardly to HTML.
Please use the page image
as the authoritative form to ensure accuracy.
The Drama of the Commons
for effectively linking resource institutions at different levels of social organization. They can be expected to play out differently in different countries and at different levels of social organization. The research community has hardly begun to address these important influences on resource institutions.
Major demographic changes. Now and over the next decades, we can expect to see continued, though slowing, growth of global population, rapid urbanization in developing countries (with the potential for reduced size or stability of rural communities), decreasing household sizes, increased participation of females in education and the labor force, and increased dependence of local resource users on remittances from relatives who have migrated off the land. These demographic changes seem likely to affect the resource management capacities of local groups and levels of concern about rural resources in national governments, perhaps both negatively. However, these hypotheses have not received much research attention.
Technological change. As Agrawal (Chapter 2) has noted, technological change is an important part of the context of resource management institutions. New technology may hasten degradation by enabling more effective harvesting of resources (e.g., better fishing equipment) or providing consumers with attractive products (e.g., all-terrain vehicles) that increase resource demands. It may also help prevent degradation by reducing pollution emissions and facilitating monitoring and enforcement. Of course, technological change is not exogenous to social institutions, though it may be exogenous to small local communities. Institutional designs may induce technological changes that either facilitate or impede achievement of an institution’s objectives. Insights about induced innovation (e.g., Binswanger and Ruttan, 1978) have yet to be applied seriously in research on the design of resource management institutions.
Historical context. The theory of institutions for common-pool resource management has been remarkably ahistorical, considering the important contributions of case study research in the field. Yet it is clear that the options available for institutional design are historically contingent (see, for example, Tietenberg’s discussion in Chapter 6 of the problem of initial allocation of tradable permits for air pollutants). The nature of such historical contingencies is an important topic for future research. This research can be aided immeasurably by the development of time-series data sets on resource management institutions.
We have already noted that a central challenge of institutional design is establishing appropriate links among institutions (Young et al., 1999). Although there are large literatures on resource institutions at small scales, as evidenced in