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Forcing Squares, Triangles and Ellipses into a Circular Paradigm: The Use of the Commons Dilemma in Examining the Allocation of Common Resources

R. Kenneth Godwin and W. Bruce Shepard
The Western Political Quarterly
Vol. 32, No. 3 (Sep., 1979), pp. 265-277
DOI: 10.2307/447477
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/447477
Page Count: 13
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Forcing Squares, Triangles and Ellipses into a Circular Paradigm: The Use of the Commons Dilemma in Examining the Allocation of Common Resources
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Abstract

Many natural resource issues have been portrayed as examples of institutional incentives leading rational individuals to act in ways that are to the detriment of society. Research on these issues has typically accepted Garrett Hardin's analogy of the overgrazing of a common pasture as an appropriate description of the institutionalized incentive structures. This essay argues that the common pasture is only one example of a far larger and complex universe of collective dilemmas. Successful analysis of a common resource issue requires close examination of the character of the resource, the incentive structures of all those affected by its use, and the realistic constraints on institutional change. We illustrate our argument through the analysis of rapid population growth, riverine water, and timber utilization.

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