Enabling Citizen Participation in Sustainable Collective Action In Smart Cities: The Case Of Buiksloterham

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Cities are responsible for 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, so they can significantly contribute to emission mitigation. Since cities are sociotechnical systems, reducing emissions requires a combination of technological innovations, social engagement and institutional arrangements. In this study, we take a common pool resource (CPR) perspective to analyse cities as sociotechnical systems that can reduce emissions. As a case study, we take Buiksloterham (BSH), a neighbourhood in Amsterdam, which is known as an experimental lab to test future plans towards being a smart, sustainable and circular neighbourhood. Electricity and water are two major interconnected CPRs in BSH that play an important role in the liveability and sustainability of the neighbourhood. Managing these resources can be treated as a collective action problem that is highly dependent on the level of citizen participation. BSH has a well-specified action plan and future vision, which mainly focuses on the technological developments of the neighbourhood, but lacks plans regarding social engagement and institutional arrangements. We used Ostrom’s Social Ecological System framework to analyse the two CPRs in BSH in order to study social engagement scenarios and to propose new institutional arrangements. We designed and formalized the institutions in the system using ADICO grammar of institutions [Crawford and Ostrom, 1995]. Widespread institutions like monitoring and sanctioning are costly mechanisms for avoiding free-rider behavior in collective action situations like BSH. They are also morally contested; we therefore do not consider them to be a preferred strategy for BSH. We propose to use a “grouping system” instead. Grouping is an institutional arrangement that gives households an opportunity to choose a colour-label based on their level of contribution to the system. Our grouping system is based on 1) the mechanism of assortative matching [Gunnthorsdottir et al., 2010] in voluntary contribution game and 2) motivation factor of “glory” in collective action [Malone et al., 2009]. We suggest grouping as a potential strategy that can tackle free-riding while also promoting citizen participation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIASC 2017 conference
Number of pages27
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventXVI Biennial IASC Conference: Practicing the Commons - Utrecht HU, Utrecht, Netherlands
Duration: 10 Jul 201714 Jul 2017


ConferenceXVI Biennial IASC Conference: Practicing the Commons
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