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

Dissertation of Insa Theesfeld

A Common Pool Resource in Transition. Determinants of institutional change for Bulgaria's postsocialist irrigation sector

Start: 1999
End: 2004

Political and economic reforms in transition countries have had a severe impact on the agricultural sector. In Bulgaria, the effective agrarian reform and the land restitution policies since 1989 have been central issues. However, the impact on water resource management is equally important, as land rights and water rights are inextricably linked. Due to an extended period of abandonment and ambiguously assigned property rights, Bulgaria’s irrigation infrastructure is almost entirely dilapidated and inoperative, and where it is still functioning, water losses are high. Insa Theesfeld’s A Common-Pool Resource in Transition contributes to a positive theory of common-pool resource management in transition. Her unique combination of aspects from Distributional Theory of Institutional Change, Transition Economics, and Public Choice Theory of Institutional Change complements the current theoretical debate on common-pool resource management. The study analyzes the determinants of institutional change in Bulgaria’s irrigation sector and links water resource management to social variables and questions concerning power relations within communities. The study elaborates on specificities in the transition process that must be considered when applying Common-Pool Resource Theory to a transition case. Opportunistic behavior and the deterioration of an already low level of social capital emerge from this study as the core transition-specific features that influence institutional change. Solid empirical evidence at the local level - a particular strength of this work - concludes that the interdependencies between opportunistic behavior and low social capital represent a cycle of self-reinforcing processes that constrain collective action solutions.

Researcher: Theesfeld, Insa

Advisors: Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Konrad Hagedorn