Mapping Concepts and Issues in the Ethics of the Commons: Introduction to the Special Issue

Journal of Business Ethics 166 (4):659-672 (2020)
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We introduce the papers in this special issue by providing an overarching perspective on the variety in kinds of commons and the ethical issues stemming from their diversity. Despite a long history of local commons management, recent decades have witnessed a surge of scholarly interest in the concept of “the commons,” including a growing management literature. This swell was impelled especially by Garrett Hardin’s paper of 1968, and the body of work generated by Elinor Ostrom and her colleagues. However, the term itself has come to be used in a variety of ways. To contextualize its ethical dimensions, we map a number of commons-related concepts such as common-pool resources, common property regime, excludability and subtractability, common-pool resource types and commons or “commoning” as a source of production. Following a brief summary of papers in this special issue, the essay concludes with an identification of implications for research, practice and policy.



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