Rationality, cooperation, and common pool resources

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Substantial dissatisfaction has emerged with the conceptualization of natural resource problems and individual decision making as represented in the tragedy of the commons model by Garret Hardin. A research program devoted to developing a theory of common pool resources that accounts for both successes and failures of cooperation among appropriators using common pool resources is reviewed. The theory identifies a set of configural attributes of resources and appropriators that, if present, support the emergence of self-governing arrangements. The model of individual decision making on which the tragedy of the commons is based - perfect rationality - is also challenged. Perfect rationality cannot account for cooperation. Alternative models of decision making are explored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)801-819+763
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences


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