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Balancing Accuracy and Meaning in Common-Pool Resource Theory

Michael Cox, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University; Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, Indiana University

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-02683-130244

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Abstract

Common-pool resources are managed in complex environments that are amenable to understanding, analysis, and management at multiple levels. This paper develops a heuristic criterion to identify the costs and benefits of adopting various levels of analysis when constructing theory for common-pool resource management. It argues that there is no single optimal level for such analysis. Instead, a trade-off is posed where theories at higher levels tend to be more accurate but less meaningful than theories at lower levels.

Key words

common-pool resources; complexity; institutional analysis; scale

Copyright © 2008 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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