Beyond the Tragedy of the Commons.

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Date

2009

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Abstract

To move beyond Hardin’s tragedy of the commons, it is fundamental to avoid falling into either of two analytical and policy traps: (1) deriving and recommending “panaceas” or (2) asserting “my case is unique.” We can move beyond both traps by self-consciously building diagnostic theory to help unpack and understand the complex interrelationship between social and biophysical factors at different levels of analysis. We need to look for commonalities and differences across studies. This understanding will be augmented if the rich detail produced from case studies is used together with theory to find patterned structures among cases. In this paper, we briefly illustrate important steps of how we can go about diagnosing the emergence and sustainability of self-organization in the fishing context of the Gulf of California, Mexico. By doing so, we are able to move away from the universality proposed by Hardin and understand how two out of three fisheries were able to successfully self-organize, and why one of them continues to be robust over time.

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Scholars@Duke

Basurto

Xavier Basurto

Truman and Nellie Semans/Alex Brown & Sons Associate Professor

I am interested in the fundamental question of how groups (human and non-human) can find ways to self-organize, cooperate, and engage in successful collective action for the benefit of the common good. To do this I strive to understand how the institutions (formal and informal rules and norms) that govern social behavior, interplay with biophysical variables to shape social-ecological systems. What kind of institutions are better able to govern complex-adaptive systems? and how can societies (large and small) develop robust institutions that provide enough flexibility for collective learning and adaptation over the long-term?

My academic and professional training is based on a deep conviction that it is through integrating different disciplinary perspectives and methods that we will be able to find solutions to challenging dilemmas in natural resources management, conservation, and environmental policy. Trained as a marine biologist, I completed a M.S in natural resources studying small-scale fisheries in the Gulf of California, Mexico. Realizing the need to bring social science theories into my work on common-pool resources sustainability, I earned an MPA and a Ph.D. in Management (with a minor in cultural anthropology) from the University of Arizona and under the supervision of Edella Schlager. Following I spent two years working with Elinor Ostrom, 2009 co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, at the Workshop for Political Theory and Policy Analysis of Indiana University. Methodologically, I am familiar with a variety of quantitative and qualitative approaches and formally trained to conduct Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA or more recently fsQCA), that allows among other things, systematic comparisons of middle range N sample sizes and address issues of multiple-causality.


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