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Small-scale, relatively isolated common pool resource systems are the exception rather than the rule, and there is a need to develop theory that can help us grapple with the governance of larger and more complex commons. I think polycentricity is a promising concept in this regard, and I am interested in contributing to empirical and theoretical understanding of the form and function of polycentric governance systems to inform both scholarship and practice.
Carlisle, K. and Gruby, R.L. Polycentric Systems of Governance: A Theoretical Model for the Commons. In Press, Policy Studies Journal.
Gruby R.L., and X. Basurto (2013). Multi-level governance for large marine commons: Politics and polycentricity in Palau’s protected area network. Environmental Science and Policy 33: 260-272. Link:
My students and I are conducting research on polycentric governance systems in the context of marine protected areas and small-scale fisheries in the Pacific Islands. Our goals are to build greater clarity and specificity around the concept with the goal of facilitating systematic theory-building and, ultimately, enabling decision-makers to harness its potential benefits.