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Social-Ecological Systems Meta-Analysis Database: Theory

Nested governance

Variable relationship:

Ostrom (1990) and others argue that nestedness (Multiple Levels) allows management systems to be scaled appropriately for the problems they are aiming to solve, while simultaneously providing institutional diversity and redundancy, ideally enabling a governance system to benefit from the comparative advantages of both relatively centralized and decentralized institutional arrangements, and contributing to successful management outcomes (Commons Condition Trend).

Scientific Field
Component Type(s)


VariableRoleRole ExplanationValue
Multiple levelsProximate independent variableMultiple levels of governance suggests nestedness.Coordination among multiple levels
Commons condition trendFinal outcomeMultiple levels of governance may allow a governance system to avoid problems the problems of either extreme of centralization (either excessive leakage from local governance or a lack of social-ecological fit from central governance), thereby preserving the commons.Remained the same or Improved

Related Theories

TheoryRelationshipCharacterizing Variables
Polycentric comanagementnested
CBNRM design principlesnested
Conditions for general resiliencenested

Related Studies


Ostrom, Elinor. 1990. Governing the Commons. New York: Cambridge University Press.


Carpenter, Stephen R., et al., 2012. General Resilience to Cope with Extreme Events. Sustainability 4 (12): 3248-3259