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Social-Ecological Systems Meta-Analysis Database: Theory

Conflict resolution and collective action

Variable relationship:

Ostrom (1990) suggests that access to venues for formal or informal conflict resolution (Conflict Resolution) is important in helping groups to reach, implement, and enforce agreements (Collective Action), and contributing to successful management of resources (Commons Condition Trend).  

For example, Ostrom (1990) discusses how disputes over groundwater in California were ultimately settled by voluntary agreements among parties after court proceedings were initiated.  

Scientific Field
Component Type(s)


VariableRoleRole ExplanationValue
Conflict resolutionProximate independent variableThe existence of conflict resolution mechanisms can encourage groups to seek mutually beneficial agreements rather than risk imposed settlements, but in the absence of agreement can impose settlements upon the participants. Yes
Transaction costsModerating independent variableConflict resolution is most effective if it can be done without incurring excessive transaction costs.Low
Collective actionIntermediate outcomeLevels of collective action will tend to be higher when conflict resolution mechanisms exist. High
Commons condition trendFinal outcomeAs a result of collective action resource conditions improve or are sustainedRemained the same or Improved

Related Theories

TheoryRelationshipCharacterizing Variables
CBNRM design principlesnested
Transaction costs and collective actioncontains

Related Studies


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