Document Type


Publication Date



In organizations, conflict often revolves around commons resources because they are critical for influence, performance, and organizational survival. Research on property rights, territoriality, and social dilemmas suggests that to reduce such conflict, organizations should facilitate the (psychological) privatization of commons resources. We complement these three literatures by drawing from the legal, organizational, and social psychology literatures to model how psychologically privatizing organizational commons resources – to prevent a tragedy of the commons (an overuse problem) – can lead to the emergence of equivalently problematic tragedy in organizations: the tragedy of the anticommons (an underuse problem). Our model contributes to these literatures by conceptualizing a bottom-up behavioral process (in contrast to institutional allocation) of property distribution that leads to the emergence of the tragedy of the anticommons. The implications of this bottom-up behavioral process for property rights theory, territoriality theory, and the social dilemma paradigm are discussed.


Working Paper 12-14

This paper later underwent peer review and was published as:

McCarter, M.W., Kopelman, S., Turk, T.A., & Ybarra, C. (2021). Too many cooks spoil the broth: Toward a theory for how the tragedy of the anticommons emerges in organizations. Negotiation and Conflict Management Research, 14(2), 60-74.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.