Research projects

A study of how self-regulated cooperation is made possible through notched sticks

About this project

Project information

Project status

In progress


Per Forsberg

Research subject

Research environments

The view that self-regulated cooperation is doomed to fail because individuals tend to maximize their self-interest has dominated economic sciences. But Ostrom (1990) has shown that such cooperation can be both effective and last for a long time if there are certain institutional mechanisms in place.

This project takes Ostroms ideas a little bit further by explaining how self-regulated cooperation between people in older farming villages was made sustainable thanks to an accounting system based on notched sticks (tally-sticks). The focus lies on how the sticks made possible local credit networks, fair distribution of rights and obligations, mutual control and functioned as material contracts. The field material that is used for the study mainly comes from upper Dalarna, Sweden, around 16th and 17th century.


Research funding bodies

  • The Research Foundations of Swedish Handelsbanken