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Robert Holahan and Mark Lubell

Collective action dilemmas, wherein short-term rewards from individual action trump larger long-term rewards from cooperation, are ubiquitous features of social interaction. From classical philosophers like Aristotle to modern political economists, scholars have been interested in understanding the root causes of these dilemmas and finding solutions that encourage cooperative behavior. Frequently, solutions take the form of institutions that alter incentives and make cooperative outcomes individually beneficial. This chapter provides a review of collective action theory and highlights a number of empirical research traditions across disciplines. Theoretical topics explored include the philosophical origins of collective action theory, the development of modern political economy as an interdisciplinary field of inquiry, and the application of game theory to complex social problems. Empirical topics discussed include the use of case studies developed through field research and the findings of increasingly complex economic experiments. Throughout, we utilize the tools of the new institutional economics to explore and explain past traditions of research and future opportunities.

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Meghan Klasic and Mark Lubell

Collaborative governance is promoted globally as a potential solution to resource dilemmas and institutional collective action problems. To date, most collaborative governance research has focused on simple partnerships studied in isolation from the broader complex policy systems in which they are embedded. This chapter argues that the analysis of collaborative governance must be expanded to the context of complex polycentric systems where diverse networks of stakeholders participate in an ecology of games involving interlinked collective action problems. We first review what existing research tells us about collaborative governance and simple partnerships, including the relationship to environmental outcomes. We then summarize the emerging research on how principles of collaborative governance can be expanded into the context of complex governance systems.