Self-organization in the commons: An empirically-tested model

Amineh Ghorbani*, Giangiacomo Bravo, Ulrich Frey, Insa Theesfeld

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


A appropriate bottom-up rule system can support the sustainability of common-pool resources such as forests and fisheries. The process that leads to the developments of such institutional settings requires the considerations of multiple social, physical, and institutional factors over long time horizons. In this paper, we present the SONICOM model as a general exploratory model of CPR systems. The model can be configured to represent different CPR systems in order to explore what kind of institutional settings result in stable systems, i.e. situations where the resource and the appropriators are in a state of well-being. We use a large-N-dataset of CPR management institutions to validate the model. The results show numerous correlations between various parameters of the system such as rule compliance, social influence and resource growth rate which help explaining the process of institutional emergence as well as unveiling the conditions under which systems are stable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-45
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironmental Modelling and Software
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Common-pool resource systems
  • Endogenous institutions
  • Multi-agent systems


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