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From Community-Based Resource Management to Complex Systems: The Scale Issue and Marine Commons

Fikret Berkes, University of Manitoba


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Most research in the area of common and common-pool resources in the past two or three decades sought the simplicity of community-based resource management cases to develop theory. This was done mainly because of the relative ease of observing processes of self-governance in simple cases, but it raises questions related to scale. To what extent can the findings of small-scale, community-based commons be scaled up to generalize about regional and global commons? Even though some of the principles from community-based studies are likely to be relevant across scale, new and different principles may also come into play at different levels. The study of cross-level institutions such as institutions of co-management, provides ways to approach scale-related questions and deal with linkages in complex adaptive systems. Looking beyond self-governance, community-based resource management needs to deal with multiple levels of governance and external drivers of change, as illustrated in this paper with examples of marine commons.

Key words

common property theory; community-based resource management; complex adaptive systems; marine commons; scale.

Copyright © 2006 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087