Subproject 2

A MESO-comparison of development of ICAs and their scaling-strategies over time

The postdoc in Subproject 2 will study resilience from the perspective of the spread of the ICA as an alternative governance regime, and study to what extent examples of specific archetypes joined forces to strengthen the movement as a whole. Some ICAs developed earlier, and survived longer as a type, and some others managed to reach a higher number of individual institutions than others. It remains unclear what explains these differences, as well as to what extend new ICAs were set-up following other examples. Nor do we know to what extent the emergence of a new archetype, such as the emergence of the journeymen’s boxes in the 16th century has influenced the survival chances of other existing ICAs, such as the guilds in this case. The inventorisation of such ICAs may allow us to discern regional patterns, as was recently done for the early modern Dutch commons [animation]. This in turn may contribute to explaining the different scaling strategies we see in each wave: the split & specialise-strategy of the first, early modern wave, the merger-strategy of the second wave, or the network-strategy of the current wave. The postdoc in this project will also relate these scaling strategies to the broader societal changes in economy and society, which may have had a decisive influence on the survival of a specific type.


In terms of methodology, this Subproject focusses on creating country-level databases for NL and BE in order to provide the data for three types of indicators to describe the quantitative development of ICAs over time: the number of emerging ICAs (or “entry”); the survival rate of ICAs after a crisis (or “adaptation”); and exit. By means of network analysis, the distribution of ICAs will be analysed. Moreover, a per country overview will be made of the possible threats to ICAs (economic crises, warfare, climate changes, political decisions/legislation aimed at weakening or dissolution of ICAs) for the whole period of ICA-development to understand the speed of ICA-developments and possible interuptions thereof. Lastly, by bringing together these data on four archetypes, and also combine these with regulation data, as has been collected in Common Rules and in Subprojects 3 and 4, we will also look for specific patterns in the evolution of each of the archetypes (as we have done for commons in a recent publication, whereby we discovered a U-shape pattern in the evolution of commons’ regulation).


Subproject 2 can rely heavily on various databases that have already been collected by the research team and colleagues, although these will need further refinement and additional research on the basis of publications and (often yet undisclosed) archival documents which give yearly overviews of the existence of specific ICAs. This team member will also be working with some specific sources that have hardly been used in the past but that gives a good overview of the emergence of new mutual shortly after the dissolution of the guilds.