IJC#5: Guiding would-be institutional crafters with Jim Sinner

In this IJC episode, Frank van Laerhoven has a conversation with Jim Sinner. Jim is the head of social science research at the Cawthron Institute, New Zealand’s largest independent science organization.

Together with Marc Tadaki, Edward Challies, Margaret Kilvington, Paratene Tane, and Christina Robb, Jim co-authored a recent IJC publication entitled Crafting Collective Management Institutions in Messy Real-World Settings: A Call for Action Research.

The article deals with how we can give guidance to prospective, or would-be institutional crafters and collective management enablers. And in order to address that question the researchers apply an explicit action research approach with commoners not as subjects or respondents but as co-researchers.

In the conversation Frank and Jim discuss some of the codes of conduct for commons researchers that are based on Jim’s research, such the need to get alongside people on the ground, to engage with social identities, and to put social justice at the center of what we do.

Jim’s work aligns with other work that that the IJC has published in the International Journal of the Commons, work that engages with critical institutionalism, for example. If this topic interests you, you may want to check out the following titles.


Cleaver, F., & De Koning, J. (2015). Furthering critical institutionalismInternational Journal of the Commons9(1).

Funder, M., & Marani, M. (2015). Local bureaucrats as bricoleurs. The everyday implementation practices of county environment officers in rural KenyaInternational Journal of the Commons9(1).

Ingram, V., Ros-Tonen, M., & Dietz, T. (2015). A fine mess: Bricolaged forest governance in CameroonInternational Journal of the Commons9(1).

Jones, S. (2015). Bridging political economy analysis and critical institutionalism: an approach to help analyse institutional change for rural water servicesInternational Journal of the Commons9(1).

Marin, A., & Bjørklund, I. (2015). A tragedy of errors? Institutional dynamics and land tenure in Finnmark, NorwayInternational Journal of the Commons9(1).

Saunders, F. (2014). The promise of common pool resource theory and the reality of commons projectsInternational Journal of the Commons8(2).

Van der Kooij, S., Zwarteveen, M., & Kuper, M. (2015). The material of the social: the mutual shaping of institutions by irrigation technology and society in Seguia Khrichfa, MoroccoInternational Journal of the Commons9(1).

Verzijl, A., & Dominguez, C. (2015). The powers of water-user associations: on multiplicity, fluidity, and durability in the Peruvian AndesInternational Journal of the Commons9(1).