Elinor Ostrom, Governing the Commons: The evolution of institutions for collective action (1990).

‘\’\’\’Summary\’\’\’: Looks at the problem of collectively managing shared resources (i.e. “common pool resources”). While conventional studies typically involve either centralized governmental regulation or privatization of the resources, Ostrom proposes a different approach to resolving the problem: the design of durable cooperative institutions that are organized and governed by the resource users themselves. Outlines 8 design principles common to the four cases (although she’s not yet persuaded that they are necessary conditions, further research might show that (or something similar) to be the case).
\’\’\’Method\’\’\’: Case studies. In-depth analysis of several long-standing and viable common property regimes, including Swiss grazing pastures, Japanese forests, and irrigation systems in Spain and the Philippines. The case studies include both successful and unsuccessful ways of managing the commons, illustrating the diversity of possible solutions.
\’\’\’\’Important Insight\’\’\’\’: Especially in the case of the smaller scale common pool resources that are the focus of the enquiry, the three dominant models to explain collective action – the tragedy of the commons, the prisoner’s dilemma, and the logic of collective action (Olson) – are less useful for characterising the behaviour of appropriators. Here, the repeated and enduring communication and interaction of individuals in a localised physical setting can, if resulting in the development of shared norms and patterns of reciprocity, form the social capital with which the institutional arrangements for resolving CPR dilemmas can be built.