Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Resource Economics

Habilitation of Dr. Dimitrios Zikos

Resource Scarcity, Competition and the Relationship between Conflict and Cooperation. The Role of Institutions in Shaping the Outcome

Start: 07/2011

End: 12/2014

Overall aim of project is to explore the causal links between scarcity, competition and conflict/cooperation and identify conditions that push towards a certain outcome. The role of formal and informal institutions in different settings for the analysis of such causalities maintains a key issue in the research. The working hypothesis of the author is that competition, a challenging dynamic process with various stages of intensity, includes also opportunities that can be picked up collectively and as such being managed in a cooperative way, well before escalating to a conflict, given that adequate and functional institutions are in place. A three-step methodological procedure is undertaken:

  • A critical review on the conceptual discourses concerning the bipolar outcome of competition (conflict/cooperation).
  • An ex-post analysis of case studies where competition over natural resources resulted either in collective action or escalated in conflict.
  • Field research employing a series of experimental tools and methods with a conflict-prevention/cooperation-fostering potential.

The area of study is diverse drawing evidence from the institutionally strong and water-rich Western Europe (e.g., Germany), from the water-scarce, less economically developed and institutionally weak European South (e.g., Greece and Cyprus), and from the Asian countries (e.g. India and China) which are highly diversified but nevertheless rising as regional hydro-hegemonies, where ongoing ‘water wars’ but also extensive community-based actions are taking place. The conceptual basis of the research drags from a) the institutional study of the commons (Ostrom and Hagedorn)/public choice theory and especially on the socio-ecological factors with an impact on cooperation and b) the contesting of largely empirically based discourses on the bipolar conflict/cooperation outcome of competition on natural resources (Gleick and Wolf).

Researcher: Dr. Dimitrios Zikos

Cooperation Partner:

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

Funding: Partially supported be Sustainable Hyderabad Project (Funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research- BMBF) and Share Water – RICIP 2010 Project (Funded by Agency for Management of University and Research Grants of Catalonia, Spain)..

Project Website:

Publications and Presentations: see