Ostrom Workshop Monday Colloquium Series 2020 – Commons Session and podcast by Insa Theesfeld (Update)


On October 19 at 18:00 CET (12:00 EST), Insa Theesfeld, president-elect of the IASC, talked at the Monday Colloquium Series of the Ostrom Workshop in Bloomington.

The Monday Colloquium Series is one of the enduring foundations of the Ostrom Workshop which commenced in 1973 and since then has served as a forum for a breadth of presenters and topics echoing the themes of the Ostrom Workshop’s research program.

During her session, Insa Theesfeld gave a presentation entitled “Explaining the Existence of Pseudo-Commons in Post-Communist Countries”.

Bill Blomquist, coordinator of the newly established research program at the Ostrom Workshop on “Commons Governance”, moderated the session.


Considerable work from collective action scholars in the last 50 years have documented ample cases, derived concepts and formulated principles that reflect that shared natural resources can be sustainably managed through commons governance approaches. Yet, there are common-property regimes that only exist on paper, or are set up intentionally to profit individuals. To explain these pseudo-commons in post-communist societies, we studied their political and social background in the irrigation and forestry sector. We illustrate pseudo-water user associations and pseudo-joint forestry management systems that do not show many key features of a true common-property governance regime. The socialist legacy of striving for economic and political benefit by elites, the prevailing Soviet mentality of preferring higher level authorities as decision-makers and the overstressing of cooperation foster pseudo-commons, with the tragic result of destroying trust in a kind of governance proven to be successful otherwise.

Insa Theesfeld, Ph.D. is a Professor of Agricultural, Environmental and Food Policy & Resource Governance at the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (Germany). She is an agricultural and institutional economist. A significant strand of her work explores governance of shared natural resources and the interdependencies between property rights. Her geographical focus is on post-socialist countries. As a commons scholar, she is leading the European chapter of the International Association for the Study of the Commons.

To watch the event in an archived live stream, please follow this link.

UPDATE: In addition to her talk at the Monday Colloquium Series Insa Theesfeld talked at the Governance Roundtable of the Ostrom Workshop (GROW). In her conversation with Bill Blomquist, Insa Theesfeld talked about her current work and how she started working with Elinor (Lin) Ostrom.

The GROW podcast highlights the ground-breaking work done by scholars affiliated with the Ostrom Workshop.

Follow this link to listen to the podcast episode with Insa Theesfeld.


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