Defining Infrastructure and Commons Management

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* Article: Brett M. FrischmannDefining Infrastructure and Commons Management


From the book: B. Frischmann, Infrastructure: The Social Value of Shared Resources, p. 3, Oxford University Press, 2012) on SSRN. [1]


"Infrastructure and commons are not typically thought to be related to one another. Both concepts have rich histories and varied meaning, and both involve complex phenomena that are the subject of study in various disciplines, including engineering, economics, political science, and law. There is no separate field of infrastructure study or commons study, and there are no settled universal theories or even definitions of infrastructure or commons. This chapter develops the foundation for bringing the concepts together. After a brief introduction to the modern conception of infrastructure and its traditional roots in large-scale, human-made physical resource systems, the chapter discusses a few observations about traditional infrastructure resources, including the important observation that traditional infrastructures are generally “managed as commons.” This sets the stage for a more detailed discussion of “commons management” as a resource management strategy and for the economic analysis that takes place in subsequent chapters."