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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Faculty of Life Sciences - Resource Economics

Dissertation of Beatrice Marelli, 2010

Common-Pool Resources: the search for rationality through values. Empirical evidence for the Theory of Collective Action in Northern Italy

Start: Januar 06
End: Dezember 09



The aim of this research is to analyse the relationship between internal values and institutions that support sustainable water management in small rural irrigation systems. This topic has been approached by investigating two farm communities that are now independently managing their water in Northern Italy, comparing how internal values have shaped institutional performance in terms of accomplished resource preservation and successful governance for sustainability. First, according to Ostrom’s IAD Framework, the research details the bio-physical features that frame the institutional pathway of institutional change in the communities. Secondly, conditions through which the internal attributes of trust, reputation and reciprocity act within shared values in the two groups have been analyzed, resulting in differences in institutional performance and implementation of the irrigation practices by each farming group. Classical contributions from general sociology and economic sociology have support the hypothesis of the close relationship existing between values and institutions, emphasizing that individual behaviour can be perfectly rational even if connected with altruism and collective action. The data for this study has been from in-depth interviews and the analysis of semantic differences used by community members when referring to the irrigation system.

Researcher: Beatrice Marelli


Advisors: Prof. Gian Primo Cella, University of Milan; Dr. Giangiacomo Bravo, University of Turin


Funding: Faculty of Political Sciences, University of Milan - Social Sciences Department, Faculty of Economy, University of Brescia