Design Principles for Investing in Common Pool Resources

Investing in CapacityThese design principles were identified by Elinor Ostrom through her study of successfully managed Common Pool Resources.  Contrary to the story of the tragedy of the commons, Ostrom found examples of common pool resources such as irrigation systems, mountain meadows and forests and fisheries that have been successfully managed for a thousand years or more.  She found further examples of successful self organizing of governance institutions for ground water basins in the 20th century.

Self organizing a community to co-own the capacity to produce food, shelter, learning, health, belonging and purpose for its members is possible.  We just need to figure out the details and we can start with these eight principles.

1.  Clearly defined boundaries

2.  Practical rules about who contributes to the production and who can access that which is produced.

3.  A mechanism the participants can use to change the rules.

4.  A mechanism to monitor compliance with the rules.

5.  Graduated sanctions for violating the rules.

6.  A mechanism to resolve disputes quickly and cheaply.

7.  An environment that permits the organization.

8.  For larger systems, the enterprises are nested.

Back to Community Investment Enterprises

Contact Us

  • David Braden IV, Executive Director, Living Systems Institute
  • (303) 549-9787

Visit Our Partners

Other Ways to Support


Upcoming Events

Upcoming events may be found on the 

Greater Denver Urban
Homesteading Meetup Group

Newsletter Signup

* indicates required