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Do Elinor Olström’s principles to manage #Commons apply to Social Systems as well?

I think you will spend 78 seconds reading this post

While reading this article here: http://evonomics.com/tragedy-of-the-commons-elinor-ostrom/ I wondered if, just like I (and others) did with Permaculture principles, her 8 core principles could be used in social systems as well (if we consider that, today, mental energy in organizations might be considered as a commons and is in danger of disappearing because of “overgrazzing”):

  1. Clearly defined boundaries;
  2. Proportional equivalence between benefits and costs;
  3. Collective choice arrangements;
  4. Monitoring;
  5. Graduated sanctions;
  6. Fast and fair conflict resolution;
  7. Local autonomy;
  8. Appropriate relations with other tiers of rule-making authority (polycentric governance)

Well, it doesn’t seem as clear cut as with permaculture. We could make the following parallels (sorry for the  crude images in what follows. Union representatives, please stay away from this unsafe zone 😉

  • workers’ mental energy is the field
  • managers are the villagers
  • work is the cows who graze in the field

There’s a first difference in that managers are both members of the group of cows and the field being grazed.

I can see how it could work to manage that (I mean, in an artificial, rigid, way with committees to monitor metrics, assemblies of managers studying the work and the health of the workforce), but nothing plausible seems to emerge.

And yet, with governance approaches (eg Sociocracy 3.0 or Holacracy or Reinvented Organizations), the problem seems to be addressed. But the distinction between cows and field has vanished (something not possible in the example of Olstrom of course). Which might have all to do with the difference between real, physical world (Olstrom) and virtual, services, mental world.

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