Volume 2, Number 2 / April issue 2016
Manuel Coelho, Manuel Alberto M. Ferreira, José António Filipe
Anti-commons in the aquaculture sector in Portugal: entrepreneurship and bureaucracy

Last decades of the 20th century have shown many problems arisen from the emergence of commons mismanagement and under-defined property rights (The “Tragedy of the Commons”, cf. Hardin, 1968), affecting, especially, the design of environmental and natural resources management policy. In the 80s, Michelman introduced another problem, this time about the excessive fragmentation of property rights. A new concept, “anticommons”, was developed to put in evidence some problems one can see as the mirror image of traditional “Tragedy of the commons”. These problems include the under-use of resources and may come from several sources, including bureaucracy. Michelman introduced the concept of “anticommons” to explain “a type of property in which everyone always has rights respecting the objects in the regime, and no one, consequently, is ever privileged to use any of them except as particularly authorized by others”. In this sense, “anticommons” is seen as a property regime in which multiple owners hold effective rights of exclusion in a scarce resource. The problem stands in this: coexistence of multiple exclusion rights creates conditions for suboptimal use of the common resource. Buchanan and Yoon (2000) suggested a special view of this problem. The authors stated that the anti-commons construction offers an analytical tool for isolating a central feature of “sometimes disparate institutional structures”. This means that the inefficiencies introduced by overlapping and intrusive regulatory bureaucracies may be studied with the help of this conceptualization. When an entrepreneur seeks to invest in a project and his action is inhibited by the necessity of getting permits from several national and regional agencies, each one holding exclusion rights to the project, we may face the “Tragedy of the Anticommons”. In this context, the possible emergence of a situation of anticommons can create a lot of problems in the development of local initiatives of entrepreneurship, affecting the potential of innovation and of regional development. There are only a few empirical studies on anticommons tragedies in the real world, most of them focusing on pharmaceutics industry. The main purpose of this paper is to use this conceptualization to study the design and execution of aquaculture policy in Portugal and to introduce the possible emergence of an “anti-commons tragedy” when we approach the difficult process of approval and execution of projects of aquaculture in the Portuguese coastal areas. Our results are consistent with the suggestion of Buchanan and Yoon (2000).
Keywords: Anti-commons, Bureaucracy, Coastal Development, Aquaculture Overall Theme: Entrepreneurship and Innovation Networks

Cite this article:
Manuel Coelho, Manuel Alberto M. Ferreira, José António Filipe. Anti-commons in the aquaculture sector in Portugal: entrepreneurship and bureaucracy. Acta Scientiae et Intellectus, 2(1), 16-26.


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