Constructing a Climate Change Logic: An Institutional Perspective on the 'Tragedy of the Commons'

Organization Science, Forthcoming

59 Pages Posted: 29 Sep 2012

See all articles by Shaz Ansari

Shaz Ansari

University of Cambridge - Judge Business School; Erasmus University, Rotterdam (EUR)

Frank Wijen

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Rotterdam School of Management (RSM)

Barbara Gray

Pennsylvania State University - Center for Research in Conflict and Negotiation (CRCN)

Date Written: September 24, 2012

Abstract

Despite increasing interest in transnational fields, transnational commons have received little attention. In contrast to economic models of commons, which argue that commons occur naturally and are prone to collective inaction and tragedy, we introduce a social constructionist account of commons. Specifically, we show that actor-level frame changes can eventually lead to the emergence of an overarching, hybrid 'commons logic' at the field level. These frame shifts enable actors with different logics to reach a working consensus and avoid 'tragedies of the commons.' Using a longitudinal analysis of key actors’ logics and frames, we tracked the evolution of the global climate change field over forty years. We bracketed time periods demarcated by key field-configuring events, documented the different frame shifts in each time period, and identified five mechanisms (collective theorizing, issue linkage, active learning, legitimacy seeking, and catalytic amplification) that underpin how and why actors changed their frames at various points in time – enabling them to move towards greater consensus around a transnational commons logic. In conclusion, the emergence of a commons logic in a transnational field is a non-linear process and involves satisfying three conditions: 1) key actors view their fates as being interconnected with respect to a problem issue; 2) these actors perceive their own behavior as contributing to the problem; and 3) they take collective action to address the problem. Our findings provide insights for multinational companies, nation-states, non-governmental organizations, and other stakeholders in both conventional and unconventional commons.

Keywords: Institutionalization, Institutional theory, Governance, Transnational fields, Transnational commons, Global commons, Mechanisms, Institutional logics, Hybrid logics, Social construction, Frames, Climate change, Climate policy, Qualitative research

JEL Classification: A11, H77, L31, M14, N50, P33, Q38

Suggested Citation

Ansari, Shahzad and Wijen, Frank and Gray, Barbara, Constructing a Climate Change Logic: An Institutional Perspective on the 'Tragedy of the Commons' (September 24, 2012). Organization Science, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2153988

Shahzad Ansari

University of Cambridge - Judge Business School ( email )

Trumpington Street
Cambridge, CB2 1AG
United Kingdom

Erasmus University, Rotterdam (EUR) ( email )

P.O. Box 1738
Room T08-21
3000 DR Rotterdam, 3000 DR
Netherlands

Frank Wijen (Contact Author)

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) ( email )

Burg. Oudlaan 50
Room T07-38
3000 DR Rotterdam, 3000 DR
Netherlands
31 10 4081985 (Phone)

Barbara Gray

Pennsylvania State University - Center for Research in Conflict and Negotiation (CRCN) ( email )

408 Beam Business Admin. Bldg.
University Park, PA 16802
United States
814-865-3822 (Phone)
814-863-7261 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.personal.psu.edu/b9g/

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