Many of the world's natural resources are in a state of crisis. The solution to this crisis is to develop effective management institutions, but there is no consensus on what those institutions are. Some economists favor solving resource-management problems through the institution of private property; others advocate central government control; and many anthropologists see local-level management as the solution. In this review, I argue that all these governance structures fail under certain conditions. However, the factors contributing to failure in each of these institutional forms differ radically, and the causes of that failure are not always predicted on the basis of existing theory. This chapter contains a review of the literature on the factors identified as causing the failure of private-property regimes, government-controlled resources, and local-level management. We will have to learn to match the resource problems with governance institutions and specific management techniques if we are to manage resources effectively. We also will have to understand the complex biosocial factors influencing sustainability.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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