International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics > Vol 1 > Issue 1

Re-telling the Tale of the Commons: A Tale of Rent Seeking, Corruption, Stockpiling and (Even) Tragedy

Timothy Swanson, Chair of Law & Economics, University College London,
 
Suggested Citation
Timothy Swanson (2007), "Re-telling the Tale of the Commons: A Tale of Rent Seeking, Corruption, Stockpiling and (Even) Tragedy", International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics: Vol. 1: No. 1, pp 111-150. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/101.00000003

Published: 15 May 2007
© 2007 Timothy Swanson
 
Subjects
Environmental Economics
 
Keywords
K4N4Q2
CommonsGovernanceResource ManagementCorruption
 

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In this article:
1 Re-Telling the Tale of the Commons
2 The Vertical Framework for Thinking about Commons Problems
3 The Resource Users' Problem: With and Without State Governance
4 The First Stage of the Generalized Commons Problem: The State's Governance Problem
5 Re-Telling the Tale of the Commons as a Governance Problem
6 Problems Resulting from Problems of Governance: Corruption, Stockpiling, Rent-Seeking
7 Conclusion
References
1 Mathematical Appendix: Re-Telling the Tale of the Commons

Abstract

The tale of the tragedy of thecommons is re-told as a problem of vertical governance rather than a problem of horizontal contracting. States make the fundamental determination concerning the amount of management conferred upon resources within their territories, and the groups using these resources are substantially constrained by this prior determination. In particular, it is demonstrated that it is unlikely that institutions might arise endogenously at the user level, when the state has abrogated its responsibility to generate them at the sovereign level. States make the decision to pursue something other than first-best management because institutions require investment and as such must compete against other such investments within the economy. This results in a distinct form of the tragedy of the commons, in which other agents attempt to enter and to exploit the vacated governance positions abrogated by the state, resulting in problems of corruption, waste, and worse.

DOI:10.1561/101.00000003