The Ostrom principles and Sociocracy

If you are not familiar with Ostrom’s work that earned her the Nobel prize: Ostrom investigated how communities succeed or fail at managing resources that are shared — for instance that piece of land in a small village where everyone’s cows graze: In studying those cases, there had been some debate on whether those shared efforts are inherently bound to fail (see the tragedy of the commons). If everyone can let their cows graze on the commons, wouldn’t too many people over-use that shared resource? Countering this pessimistic expectation, some of these common resources are actually well-maintained. But which ones? Ostrom distilled 8 characteristics from all the cases where resource-sharing worked well and sustainably to find out what in CPR management makes the difference.

When I first read the Ostrom principles in 2016, it occurred to me that what is being asked for in the principles is exactly what a sociocratic implementation delivers. Since my work is all about making links where they suggest themselves and weaving related networks together, this article is about the connection of the commons and the nuts and bolts of governance as equals.

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