Wednesday, June 25, 2008


A good friend of mine Ming is curious about the term anti-commons. The term actually was coined back in 1998 by Columbia Law School professor Michael Heller in a Harvard Law Review piece, some simple description of the concept could be found here.

Two years later, Jim Buchanan and his colleague wrote a piece in Journal of Law and Economics elaborating on the idea. The abstract for the piece is reproduced below:

An anticommons problem arises when there exist multiple rights to exclude. In a lengthy law review paper, Michael A. Heller has examined "The Tragedy of the Anticommons," especially in regard to disappointing experiences in efforts to shift from socialist to market institutions in Russia. In an early footnote, Heller suggests that a formal economic model of the anticommons has not been developed. This paper responds to Heller's challenge. We analyze the anticommons problem in which resources are inefficiently underutilized rather than overutilized as in the familiar commons setting. The two problems are shown to be symetrical in several respects. We present an algebraic and geometric illustration and extend the discussion to several applications. More importantly, we suggest that the construction is helpful in understanding the sources of major value wastage in modern regulatory bureaucracy.

1 comment:


Thanks, Gary. I have a look on Heller's paper on anti-commons too. I think the idea is important when government needs to find a way to distribute commons properties to individuals during transition.