Centre For Local Research into Public Space (CELOS)

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Park Governance

Lucy Tishkina's Ostrom book notes:

Ostrom notes for chapter 1

Prisoner’s dilemma

-Dominant strategy is to defect-defect
-Assumptions: each participant has complete information of the game structure
-Paradox: individual rational choices lead to collective irrational outcomes

The logic of collective action

-Written by Mancur Olson
-challenges the belief in collective action
-asserts that individuals will not work towards achieving group benefits unless the group is small or there is coercion involved
-people cannot be excluded from receiving a collective benefit - will therefore try to opt out of doing the work to create that benefit; individuals will be tempted to free-ride
-intermediate group - undecided if collective benefit can be achieved; size of group is determined by looking at whether an individual’s actions are noticable

theories that explain how individuals try or fail to achieve collective benefit:

the tragedy of the commons, prisoner’s dilemma, the logic of collective action
Dangerous when applied as metaphors to create policy - rules can be changed by individuals involved in some instances; the rules of the game are not fixed as it is assumed
-assumption that the use of collective resources and suboptimal results warrant further similarities and prescribe a course of action - the enforcement of external rules or coercion
-implies that individuals cannot solve their own problems, they are helpless victims - justifies external intervention and creation of rules
- with such assumptions: centralized government is the most logical institution to solve such problems

Game 2

- the external authority knows the sustainable yield of the meadow
-decides on the number of animals, time of grazing, etc
-unfailingly penalizes the overgrazers
-the outcome is a cooperate-cooperate scenario
assumptions about central authority
- has accurate knowledge of carrying capacity
- incurs zero cost of administration
-imposes correct sanctioning
-provides accurate monitoring

Game 3

-the carrying capacity is known
-actions of herders are unknown
-inconsistent sanctioning leads to Game 1 outcomes or prisoner’s dilemma

Some analysts suggest privatization as a solution to the tragedy of the commons
-herders need to build fences and enforce boundaries they create
-grazing pasture is not homogenous - a larger area can act as insurance providing areas of variable quality for herders to choose from with changing weather, etc


-neither solution takes into account the details of reality
-creating effective institutions is time consuming and conflict-evoking
-individuals and collectives can solve their own problems but with varying degrees of success
-successful institutions enable individuals to achieve productive outcomes when there are temptations to free ride or shirk responsibility
-public and private institutions depend on one another and are not separate as some theorists argue - the free market itself depends on public institutions to exist

Game 5

Herders create their own binding contract
The herders take into account the carrying capacity of the meadow and the costs of enforcement
Possible to outsource enforcement to a private agent
The agreement and rules are determined by the herders and the agent only helps them to negotiate, monitor and find solutions - the monitor does not come up with the rules to impose them from the outside
The informal rules of Game 5 have been confused with Game 1 (a scenario without any rules)
The same issues may arise - incorrect understanding of carrying capacity, improper monitoring and enforcement, etc

Alanya Turkey

-the fishermen created a system of rotating fishing spots based on their extensive knowledge of the ecosystem
-fishermen have an opportunity to fish at the best spots and also have turns where they fish at the least productive spots
-to enforce the set of rules decided by the fishermen would require a full time staff person from the centralized authority

Some people have figured out a way to get out of the commons dilemma based on

the ability to communicate
-understanding of a shared future

External factors that might prevent the development of cooperation

-inability to change rules
-changes from the outside that happen quickly and do not give time for the group to formulate a response
Institutional details which are overlooked

Ostrom’s purpose

Given the similarity between many CPR problems and the problems of providing small-scale collective goods, the findings from this volume should contribute to an understanding of the factors that can enhance or detract from the capabilities of individuals to organize collective action related to providing local public goods. All efforts to organize collective action, whether by an external ruler, an entrepreneur, or a group of principals who wish to gain collective benefits, must address a common set of problems. These have to do with coping with free-riding, solving commitment problems, arranging for the supply of new institutions, and monitoring individual compliance with sets of rules. A study that focuses on how individuals avoid free-riding, achieve high levels of commitment, arrange for new institutions, and monitor conformity to a set of rules in CPR environments should contribute to an understanding of how individuals address these crucial problems in other settings as well.

Ostrom notes for Chapter 2

Definition of CPR’s

1) coping with free riding
2) commitment problem
3) supply of institutions -> external pressures and the addition of new people to the collective
4) monitoring and compliance

Examples of monitoring at Dufferin

-Self-monitoring - internalized - for example the situation with food being left out or making too much or too little of food
-Internal monitoring happens through trial & error
-Monitoring by external agencies/government agencies - example public health

More recent examples

-Monitoring how flooding is progressing
Other forms of monitoring
-The idea of “eyes on the park”
- Staff also monitor the city -> looking at the policies being proposed by management, challenging management to create more inclusive and vibrant parks, ensuring management pays staff for all hours worked

What are norms of behaviour at Dufferin? What are the actions people take?

create a model
-> publish the model for others to use
-> example campfire handbook
-> other parks without a model of self-governance
-> offer guidelines as a form of supply

A conservancy model is supported through Ostrom

examples of how the state can be enabling and supporting -> captured to a

limited degree by Ostrom -> look for others in her writing or other books
->positive methods of monitoring and compliance and how this applies to the state

Supply problem, commitment problem and monitoring

The creation of institutions takes work, to create institutions people need to commit together in order to make them happen, in order to fully commit people need to create an effective system of monitoring and a system of graduated sanctions

Commitment: unions, staff, managers (or lack of)

Staff encouraged to commit through:
-pay benefits, friendly work environment, ability to modify rules or participate in making them, learning skills & doing what you enjoy, flexible scheduling

Still does not answer: Why are people committed?

-Every staff member or individual has their own answer, also everyone has their own “breaking point”; once a person reaches his/her “breaking point” they will break their commitment and leave the park or leave for other reasons
-the seasonal nature of employment at the park makes it harder for people to commit long-term or full-time

-why do people keep leaving the park?

-different reasons, there has been follow-up to know what these reasons are
-For example, one reason for CELOS existing was to allow staff members to pursue interesting projects and have a source of income in the off season -this helps to address some of the issues that might prevent people from committing

Commitment from managers:

-managers do not commit to the model at the park, CRP does not choose to be engaged on the ground even though she could - why?
-some possibilities - people who are interested in collective action work on the ground and come to the park, how is it possible to “convert” others (managers, etc) to work from a collective action model?
-discussion of broader social forces - values of a capitalist culture emphasize self-interest, profit motive, upward mobility, following authority -> how can we change this?
-also broader issues can be seen in the light of Ostrom like colonialism -> the imposition of central authority and rules onto cultures where rules already exist (the inability to recognize Game 5 - assuming it as Game 1)

What is the resource unit at the park?

people or what they get from the park
Farmers at the market
-> appropriators and users
->impose limitations to ensure each farmer has a viable income (creation of

Things that park goers are appropriating from the park: taxes, donations, services, community, safety, property value, quality of life

More specifically the resource units that park users appropriated are:

cookies, mac&cheese, muffins, shovels, etc
-> people can’t share these
-> if there are too many patrons at the park not everyone might be able to get what they want and their quality of life is diminished

Who are the providers?

People who give the park money though grants, taxes, donations, etc

Who are the producers? The staff who maintain the system (ie the park)

Outstanding topics left to explore:
-Rational thought\\ -Social norms
-Collective->constitutional rules

  1. Margaret Fairley Park
  2. Phin Street Park
  3. Withrow Park
  4. Cedar Ridge Park
  5. Healey Willan Park
  6. Dufferin Grove Park

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Content last modified on April 01, 2012, at 02:56 PM EST