Contemporary literature dealing with the governance and exploitation of common-pool natural resources was initiated by Elinor Ostrom in 1990, and has been growing fast ever since. On the contrary, within the same research stream, the study of the presence and economic role of common resources in entrepreneurial organizations is, to date, under-researched. This work endeavors to fill some theoretical gaps in this research perspective by: (i) spelling out a new-institutionalist framework for the analysis of the accumulation and governance of common capital resources within organizational boundaries; (ii) considering co-operative enterprises as the organizational form that, on the basis of historical record, and of behavioral and institutional characteristics, demonstrated to be most compatible with a substantial role for common and non-divided asset-ownership and with its governance thereof; and (iii) evidencing and explaining the theoretical connection between cooperative longevity and the presence of non-divided asset ownership. The economic forces influencing the optimal level of self-financed common capital resources in co-operatives are enquired. Conclusions to the paper evidence the main reasons why the new approach can better explain than preceding ones the economic sustainability and longevity of cooperative enterprises.
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