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How do local communities collectively manage those resources that are most important to their own survival or prosperity? Wherever they are located, all communities face similar dilemmas of collective action: how can common goals be realized despite the presence of individual incentives to over-exploit common resources for private gain? The readings collected in Polycentric Governance and Development show the achievements of scholars associated with the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University in understanding how communities have dealt with dilemmas of collective action. Their analyses also have profound implications for broader issues of development.
The central insight of the research collected in the volume is this: much can be learned by a careful examination of the ways in which local communities have organized themselves to solve collective problems, achieve common aspirations, and resolve conflicts. The first two sections deal with efforts to manage water and other common-pool resources on a relatively small scale. Section three moves to the macro-level of analysis, with particular attention given to examples of constitutional order from Africa, while section four demonstrates that local organizations and informal networks can play essential roles in furthering democratization and development. The concluding section addresses issues at the national level, by linking the practical world of resource management and development policy to the abstract world of the policy analyst. This collection of essays is designed to illustrate how all the pieces fit together and to suggest connections among multiple levels and modes of analysis.
Contributors include Paula C. Baker, William Blomquist, Larry L. Kiser, Ronald J. Oakerson, Elinor Ostrom, Vincent Ostrom, Roger B. Parks, Stephen L. Percy, Charles M. Tiebout, Martha Vandivort, Robert Warren, Gordon P. Whitaker, and Rick Wilson.