Community OR and Third Sector

"The Common. What is it? How to manage it for the benefit of all?"

When examining human collectives through the perspective of Community OR (COR), it is anticipated that more unified collective actions will yield greater benefits for the members of these collectives. As a result, common resources can be established, managed, and evolved to bolster both individual and collective actions. However, an aspect that has not been extensively explored in COR literature is the composition of the Commons.

Common goods can manifest in various forms (Ostrom, 1990), and their equitable usage has been perceived as a moral dilemma (Hardin, 1968). Traditional OR treats ‘actors’ as rational individuals seeking to maximise their benefits and/or minimise their losses/risks. This approach, however, does not cover all potential motivations behind an individual’s decision to utilise or misuse a common good. Some might exploit the Commons driven more by instinct and emotion, rather than by deliberate and logical reasoning (Kahneman, 2011).

However, something that doesn’t seem to be considered when studying individuals’ decisions on how to use the Commons is the nature of such Commons.  Are decisions made depending on what the Commons consist of? For instance, many people would fight for their rights to access water, but not for the potential risks of climate change or the desire for global peace. Communities might be built around the fair use of the Commons available, but their structure might not be always the same. This requires further research and reflection.

Therefore, in this edition of the COR stream, we will explore the possible contributions of COR to building and developing Communities, with special attention to the kind of Commons that such communities can discover, build, manage, and develop. Theoretical pieces of work are always welcome, but reflections on practical instances around the world would be preferred.


Hardin (1968). “The tragedy of the commons”. Science, 162 (3859), pp.1243-1248,

Kahneman, D. (2011). “Thinking, fast and slow”. London: Penguin. ISBN:978-0-141-91892-1.

Ostrom, E. (2010). “Beyond markets and states: Polycentric governance of complex economic systems”. American Economic Review, 100, pp. 1-33,"



Eliseo Vilalta-Perdomo (photo).jpg

Eliseo Vilalta-Perdomo, Aston University

David Ernesto Salinas-Navarro (photo).jpg

David Salinas-Navarro, Aston University

Rebecca Herron (photo).jpg

Rebecca Herron, University of Lincoln