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Transformation of resource management institutions under globalization: the case of songgye community forests in South Korea.

David J. Yu, School of Sustainability, Arizona State University; Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity, Arizona State University
John M. Anderies, Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity, Arizona State University; School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University; School of Sustainability, Arizona State University
Dowon Lee, Graduate School of Environmental Studies, Seoul National University
Irene Perez, Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity, Arizona State University


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The context in which many self-governed commons systems operate will likely be significantly altered as globalization processes play out over the next few decades. Such dramatic changes will induce some systems to fail and subsequently to be transformed, rather than merely adapt. Despite this possibility, research on globalization-induced transformations of social-ecological systems (SESs) is still underdeveloped. We seek to help fill this gap by exploring some patterns of transformation in SESs and the question of what factors help explain the persistence of cooperation in the use of common-pool resources through transformative change. Through the analysis of 89 forest commons in South Korea that experienced such transformations, we found that there are two broad types of transformation, cooperative and noncooperative. We also found that two system-level properties, transaction costs associated group size and network diversity, may affect the direction of transformation. SESs with smaller group sizes and higher network diversity may better organize cooperative transformations when the existing system becomes untenable.

Key words

collective action; community-based forest management; forest commons; multilevel governance; nested enterprise; network diversity; robustness; robustness trade-offs; social-ecological systems; songgye; transformative capacity of social-ecological systems

Copyright © 2014 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.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087