Advancing understanding of natural resource governance: a post-Ostrom research agenda


Institutions are vital to the sustainability of social-ecological systems, balancing individual and group interests and coordinating responses to change. Ecological decline and social conflict in many places, however, indicate that our understanding and fostering of effective institutions for natural resource management is still lacking. We assess theoretical and methodological challenges facing positivist institutional analysis, focusing on natural resource governance according to Ostrom’s social-ecological systems (SES) framework. Rather than adding more variables, progress requires a clearer, more consistent approach to selecting, defining and measuring institutional elements; stronger links between theory and empirical research; a greater focus on mechanisms and causality; and the development and application of new methods, including quantitative approaches. Strengthening the connections between theory, models, and data suggests several promising avenues for advancing institutional analysis through the study of relationships between institutional structure, process, function, context, and outcomes.

Publication Type
Journal Article
Graeme S. Cumming
Graham Epstein, Indiana University
John Marty Anderies
Cristina I. Apetrei
Jacopo Alessandro Baggio, Utah State University
Örjan Bodin, Stockholm Resilience Centre
Sivee Chawla, James Cook University
Hayley S. Clements
Michael E. Cox
Lukas Egli, Heimholtz Centre for Environmental Research
Georgina G. Gurney
Mark N. Lubell
Tiffany H. Morrison
Ralf Seppelt, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ
Maja Schlüter, Stockholm Resilience Centre
Hita Unnikrishnan, The University of Sheffield
Sergio Villamayor-Tomás, Humbolt University, Berlin
Christopher M. Weible
Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability

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