The nature of the governance of Japanese irrigation common-pool resources

Ashutosh Sarker, Tadao Itoh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


This study critically analyzes how Japanese irrigators govern their irrigation common-pool resources (CPRs) to address CPR problems. The study contradicts the traditional belief that state and market approaches are necessary to address CPR problems and reveals that a "patronized self-governance" approach can be an effective way to resolve the problems. State and market approaches ignore CPR users' endogenous institutions and recommend that external authorities such as governments exercise coercion to make rational, self-interested users achieve group benefits or privatize their resources. This study explains why and how a patronized self-governance approach has been effective in managing Japanese irrigation CPRs. While irrigators organize themselves and formulate endogenous institutions to self-govern irrigation CPRs, the government strategically patronizes the users' self-governance. The irrigators are farsightedly rational in collective action situations and the government does not need to apply coercion to make the rational, self-interested irrigators achieve their common interests.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-172
Number of pages14
JournalSociety and Natural Resources
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Collective action
  • Common-pool resources
  • Game theory
  • Irrigation institutions
  • Patronized self-governance

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