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Governing Common-Property Assets: Theory and Evidence from Agriculture

Abstract : This paper introduces a refined approach to conceptualising the commons in order to shed new light on cooperative practices. Specifically, it proposes the novel concept of Common-Property Assets (CPAs). CPAs are exclusively human-made resources owned under common-property ownership regimes. Our CPA model combines quantity (the flow of resource units available to members) and quality (the impact produced on the community by the members' appropriation of the resource flow). While these two dimensions are largely pre-existing in the conventional case of natural common-pool resources, they directly depend on members' collective action in CPAs. We apply this theoretical framework to farm machinery sharing agreements-a widespread grassroots cooperative phenomenon in agriculture-using a systematic literature review to generalise the findings from a sample of 54 studies published from 1950 to 2018. Our findings show that in successful CPAs, members endorse and do not deviate from a quantity-quality equilibrium that is collectively agreed upon. Despite the existence of thresholds for both quantity and quality due to (axiological) membership heterogeneity, qualitative changes in respect of the common good are possible in CPAs that promote democratic practices. Our study has potentially strong implications for developing ethics in cooperatives and the sustainable development of communities worldwide.
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Contributor : Damien Rousselière <>
Submitted on : Monday, November 23, 2020 - 2:48:42 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, January 14, 2021 - 1:18:58 PM


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Simon Cornée, Madeg Le Guernic, Damien Rousselière. Governing Common-Property Assets: Theory and Evidence from Agriculture. Journal of Business Ethics, Springer Verlag, 2020, 166 (4), pp.691-710. ⟨10.1007/s10551-020-04579-1⟩. ⟨hal-02922732⟩



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