Center for Behavior, Institutions and the Environment / CBIE Working Papers / Contextualizing the Commons in a World of Interdependency: Qualitative Analysis of Quantitative Inconsistencies

Contextualizing the Commons in a World of Interdependency: Qualitative Analysis of Quantitative Inconsistencies

CBIE_WP-2015-005

Abstract

Previous statistical analyses of Elinor Ostrom's design principles have demonstrated that they have some predictive capacity to explain successful self-governance and CPR management regimes. But their implementation does not ensure success in multiple dimensions. Critiques have shown that there are important contexts and contingencies that these principles do not consider, and that other scholars working from different approaches could develop a different set of principles with similar explanatory power. In this study, we take the statistical analysis of a large-N meta-analysis as a starting point. We examine 9 cases that do not fit the mould; those cases that were inconsistent with the conclusions of our earlier empirical work on design principles. We ask; 1) What happened in cases where nearly all design principles were met, but governance was deemed unsuccessful and 2) what happened in other cases where governance was successful despite finding limited or no design principles? We qualitatively examine inconsistent cases to further demonstrate the importance of context, and other processes occurring in CPR cases. In some cases, qualitative analysis revealed that the design principles could explain these inconsistencies. In others, however, other processes were important, including market integration, social cohesion, technology, time lags, and the influence of non-state actors. Additionally, while the design principles can explain CPR outcomes, they are often proximal causes along a causal-chain. By tracing back from proximate to ultimate causes, we can understand the nested nature of the interactions and outcomes occurring in cases. This approach is complementary to, and reflects the spirit of the diagnostic approach to understanding Social-Ecological Systems, as suggested by Ostrom and others. We thus recommend an iterative approach between deductive, and inductive, quantitative and qualitative, and dialogue between different theoretical and methodological approaches to CPR problems and recommended solutions.

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Published June 11, 2015

Allain J Barnett, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton

Jacopo A. Baggio, Utah State University

Hoon C. Shin, Arizona State University, School of Human Evolution and Social Change

David J. Yu, Purdue University

Irene Perez Ibarra, Arizona State University, Center for Behavior, Institutions and the Environment

Cathy A. Rubinos, Arizona State University, School of Human Evolution and Social Change

Ute Brady, Arizona State University, School of Human Evolution and Social Change

Elicia Ratajczyk, Arizona State University, School of Human Evolution and Social Change

Nathan D. Rollins, Arizona State University, School of Sustainability

Rimjhim Aggarwal, Arizona State University, School of Sustainability

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