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The Ecology of Games as a Theory of Polycentricity: Recent Advances and Future Challenges


Lead review article for a special issue of Policy Studies Journal (February 2019) on The Ecology of Games as a Theory of Polycentricity. Open access (non-paywalled) version of the article available here.

“The Ecology of Games approach to examining complex governance systems in democratic societies has been recently refurbished to infuse renewed vitality in the analysis of institutions and collective action in polycentric governance systems. This opening article to the special issue on the Ecology of Games Theory (EGT) will discuss the main component elements of the theory, as well as recently produced empirical advances that test and extend it. The article is structured in three sections. The first section describes the EGT as a theory of polycentricity and explains why it is critical to study both the structure and function of polycentric governance systems, including collaboration among policy stakeholders, learning about problems, and equitably distributing the resources generated by policy interactions. The second section reviews empirical evidence that examine structure and function in polycentric systems, including their coevolution. Finally, the third section will provide insights on future research needs to strengthen this newly developed theory of polycentricity.”