Annotations & Highlights
Chapter 1. Reflections on the Commons
Institutions are rarely either private or public – “the market” or “the state.” Many successful CPR institutions are rich mixtures of “private-like” and “public-like” institutions defying classification in a sterile dichotomy.
Instead of there being a single solution to a single problem, I argue that many solutions exist to cope with many different problems. Instead of presuming that optimal institutional solutions can be designed easily and imposed at low cost by external authorities, I argue that “getting the institutions right” is a difficult, time-consuming, conflict-invoking process.
Whether or not any equilibria are possible and whether or not an equilibrium would be an improvement for the individuals involved (or for others who are in turn affected by these individuals) will depend on the particular structures of the institutions.
Empirically validated theories of human organization will be essential ingredients of a policy science that can inform decisions about the likely consequences of a multitude of ways of organizing human activities. Theoretical
⤷I wonder if/where this has come to pass
Instead of presuming that some individuals are incompetent, evil, or irrational, and others are omniscient, I presume that individuals have very similar limited capabilities to reason and figure out the structure of complex environments. It is my responsibility as a scientist to ascertain what problems individuals are trying to solve and what factors help or hinder them in these efforts. When the problems that I observe involve lack of predictability, information, and trust, as well as high levels of complexity and transactional difficulties, then my efforts to explain must take these problems overtly into account rather than assuming them away.
Chapter 2. An Institutional Approach to the Study of Self-Organization and Self-Governance in CPR Situations
propositions derived from a theory of public goods that are based on the nonsubtractive attributes of those goods are not applicable to an analysis of appropriation and use of subtractable resource units.
In both the theory of the firm and the theory of the state, the burden of organizing collective action is undertaken by one individual, whose returns are directly related to the surplus generated.
⤷Is that true about Coase's original theory of the firm? It seems shortsighted to view firms and states as undertaken by one individual
1) the problem of supplying a new set of institutions, (2) the problem of making credible commitments, and (3) the problem of mutual monitoring.
Individuals who have self-organizing capabilities switch back and forth between operational-, collective-, and constitutional-choice arenas, just as managers of production firms switch back and forth between producing products within a set technology, introducing a new technology, and investing resources in technology development.
Common knowledge implies that every participant knows the rules, and knows that others know the rules, and knows that they also know that the participant knows the rules.
⤷lol but that is very robust definition of common knowledge! I wonder if theres a similar one for common sense.
The basic strategy is to identify those aspects of the physical, cultural, and institutional setting that are likely to affect the determination of who is to be involved in a situation, the actions they can take and the costs of those actions, the outcomes that can be achieved, how actions are linked to outcomes, what information is to be available, how much control individuals can exercise, and what payoffs are to be assigned to particular combinations of actions and outcomes. Once one has all the needed information, one can then abstract from the richness of the empirical situation to devise a playable game that will capture the essence of the problems individuals are facing.