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Ostrom, la propriété et les communs

Understanding the puzzling resilience of the land share ownership in Russia: the input of Ostrom’s approach

Comprendre la surprenante résilience de la propriété foncière collective en Russie : l’apport de l’approche d’Ostrom
Comprender la sorprendente resiliencia de la propiedad rural colectiva en Rusia : el aporte del enfoque de Ostrom
Pascal Grouiez

Résumés

Dans cet article nous cherchons à déterminer la façon dont le droit foncier agricole russe, tel qu’il est mis en pratique par les acteurs, influence simultanément la taille des exploitations et la nature de la propriété foncière. Nous utilisons le concept « d’arrangements institutionnels » développé par Ostrom pour montrer que les règles d’utilisation du foncier par les exploitants agricoles – et les mécanismes assurant leur exécution – sont le résultat d’un compromis entre le régime foncier et les intérêts économiques et sociaux de communautés « emboitées ». Ce compromis conduit à la préservation de grandes exploitations agricoles et d’une propriété collective de la terre dans la région d’Orel.

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Texte intégral

The author wishes to thank two anonymous referees and Agnès Labrousse for their constructive comments and suggestions. The author also wishes to thank Natalya Shagaida for her help in understanding Russian land statistics. The usual disclaimer applies, the author being responsible for any errors in this article.

Introduction

  • 1 Eggertsson (1990: 254) has called it “the naive theory of property rights”.

1According to mainstream economics, the emergence of individual property rights and property right transfer are one of the most important conditions for ensuring the economic efficiency of land use (Demsetz, 1964, 1966, 1967). In this model, market structure is considered to be the best institutional arrangement to ensure such efficient right transfer, which leads to an inexorable movement toward private-individual land ownership and other natural resources1; however, the assumption of a strict selfish rationality requires that all institutional arrangements be self-enforcing. On the contrary, North (1990) proposed a model in which institutional policy involves the design of enforcement rules and methods (social mechanisms) that channel individual and aggregate behavior in some desired direction, i.e., transfer of rights in an economically efficient way. This model allowed North to abandon the “selfish rationality hypothesis”.

  • 2 We identified different configurations of human cooperation: collective of land-share owners; land- (...)

2Ostrom (1990) and Poteete et al. (2010) considered that both models neglected the effectiveness of alternative property/regulatory arrangements that actually exist and have evolved to manage natural resources (such as land) successfully. Using this statement, we propose interrogating the capacity of multiple individual and collective actors to design incentive and enforcement mechanisms producing the desired social outcomes. We study transformation in agricultural land property in Russia, focusing on how property rules are developed and changed in settings involving nested communities2 with multiple resource‑use values and multiple rule-making arenas.

3Indeed, we aim to demonstrate that Ostrom’s framework can, methodologically and theoretically, provide efficient satisfactory responses to three puzzles – defined as low levels of explanation about a stylized fact – found in the mainstream economic literature on rural transformation in Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

  • The first puzzle is related to land market changes. Shagaida and Lerman (2008) observed that although the buying and selling of agricultural land by individuals was anticipated by Agrarian reformers, it remains minuscule compared to land leasing. They reckoned that land leasing goes hand-in-hand with “serious obstacles to achieving economic efficiency” (p. 183) because they considered that using land that you own is more efficient than using land that you rent.

  • The second puzzle is related to observations reporting the preservation of collective property in land rather than the development of private property supported by reformers. Indeed, private property is presumed to be the best way to ensure the economic efficiency of land use (Csaki and Lerman, 1997; Lerman, 2002, 2009).

  • The last puzzle concerns the preservation of large-scale farms whereas reformers set up many incentive rules to develop individual farms. Indeed, reformers considered large-scale farms to be Soviet organizations that were both non-profitable and unable to compete against other organizations in the market structure.

4In the economic literature, recurrent arguments have been proposed to explain these three puzzles: the lack of legal reforms (Brooks et al., 1996), inadequate law mechanisms (Lerman, 2002, 2009) and the fact that land market reforms have not been properly implemented (Brooks and Lerman, 1993; Csaki and Lerman, 1992, 1994, 1997; Epstein, 2002; Lerman and Brooks, 1996; Lerman and Shagaida, 2007). Yet, these arguments are not supported by any factual evidence. Indeed, they are much more ad hoc exogenous explanatory factors (Labrousse, 2007). Rules then seem to be incentive mechanisms for which enforcement mechanisms are less examined.

5In this paper, we propose an approach in which law is not analyzed independently from the game plan of the players involved in the law-making process. The “rule-in-use” concept is therefore mobilized to study social norms, conflicts and compromises that underlie governance in resource and social relationship management in detail.

  • 3 Ostrom insisted on the difference she made between formal rules and rules-in-use: “Contemporary sch (...)

6Ostrom actually developed a method for understanding rules-in-use that regulate human societies rather than the rules themselves (Ostrom, 1992a)3. She demonstrated that the rule-in-use involves both cognitive and interpretative aspects. In the first part of this article, we focus specifically on the analysis of rules-in-use on land property rights to fulfill this method. It leads us conclude that national policy makers organized a market compartmentalization regarding access to agricultural land for individuals, through a rights regime. We argue that the land tenure regime – i.e., the legal regime in which a land is owned by an individual – shapes a wide range of legal regimes on the property right transfer, which depend on the status of the “holder” and on the specificity of the “land acquirer” (1. 1.). This “compartmentalization” of land transaction rights determines the attitudes of buyers, depending on the farm size and its legal status; however, this regime seems to be ill-adapted to the various interests of communities involved in the land transaction process. This is why land property rules in use differ from what reformers anticipated (1. 2.). Transaction rules make it particularly difficult to purchase a small land plot.

  • 4 Indeed, rules can be developed at a local-government level to increase the performance of communal (...)
  • 5 This distinction enables Ostrom to describe a given rule structure, informing on positions of indiv (...)
  • 6 This distinction between holders is fundamental in the Ostrom framework because it helps to propose (...)
  • 7 Especially between local rules resulting from national policies and local norms (or duties) of land (...)
  • 8 See Box 2 for a definition of new investors.

7Furthermore, Ostrom emphasized the importance of the distinction between top-level rules and rules developed by communities in the field – regardless of the purpose of the rules4 (Ostrom, 2001; Dietz et al., 2003) – to apprehend the resource management process. She therefore mobilized the concept of “bundles of rights” (Schlager and Ostrom, 1992), which allows some abstract concepts such as private, individual or collective property (see Orsi in this issue) to be overtaken and the nature of the specific rights attributed to each holder (including the community) regarding land resource management in the field to be captured. Indeed, Ostrom introduced two fundamental distinctions: one between strategies, norms and rules5 and one between the authorized user, claimant, proprietor and owner6. In the second part of the article, we analyze conflicts over which land appropriation strategies, norms or rules should be brought7 to understand both the institutional arrangement that emerged in Orel and the three puzzles in the mainstream economic literature on Russia. We use the results based on many interviews led in the Orel Oblast’, between 2005 and 2009, with several communities of land‑share owners and other actors of the agricultural sector (especially journalists and politicians), to present the various bundles of rights and their consequence on the enforcement mechanisms that emerged at the local level. We observe that some rural communities brought local norms to ensure service characteristics of the land (a payoff norm). To achieve this, they preserved the principle of “collective land property in a joint tenancy”, which involves large‑scale land property, existing in the national land property law; however, due to the specificities of the land share property regime (see Part 1.) the large-scale land can only be rented in practice. As a result, a conditional access to land market benefits to large units, and especially to the new investor8 (i.e., land appropriators). An institutional arrangement between new investors’ need for land and the interests of local communities in sustaining the land’s social characteristics has been established (2. 1.). Some case studies of conflicts between land-share owners and new investors are examined to describe how, in the Orel Oblast’, institutional arrangements governing the agricultural land at a local level have been enforced. We observe that enforcement mechanisms involve several communities (journalists, regional and local politicians, etc.), and not only the community of land-share owners and new investors. Then, we demonstrate that the fact that many farmers prefer renting land rather than buying it seems to be the result of an institutional arrangement to grab land, improve the size of farms for new investors and ensure sustainable use of the land by land-owner communities (2. 2.). We therefore explain how large-scale agricultural production units have been preserved in Orel, whereas mainstream economics predicted that the transfer of rights should have only led to the emergence of small farms in Russia.

1. Compartmentalization of the Land Transaction Market

  • 9 Methodologically speaking, this resembles the method proposed by Favereau and Robé (2012) when they (...)

8After the collapse of the Soviet system, Russia decided to transfer arable land ownership to the rural population (Wegren, 2002). Reformers expected land right transactions to ensure the efficiency of the redistribution process; however, they did not consider the fact that rules-in-use differ from land property rights as defined by policy makers. We re-read various decrees and laws voted since 1990 (see Table 1 in the Appendix for the list of legislations that we read, and Russian Federation, 2001, 2002, 2003) to understand how, as a tenure regime, they defined concrete rights and duties of many individuals and communities taking part in the land transaction process (their bundles of rights). We presume that this method can help us position key holders involved in land resource management with respect to their market power9 (1. 1.). Then, we study how the actors use their rights “in practice”, focusing on the Orel regional level (1. 2.). We conclude that the land tenure regime does not provide many land transaction rights. The size of the land in transaction is thus relatively large, and only two kinds of farmers can have real access to state-owned land and collectively-owned land: corporate farms and the most capitalistic peasant farms (see Box 2 for definitions). These two types of farm are – with the community of land-share owners – key players in institutional arrangements, which are analyzed in the second part of the article.

1. 1. Land Tenure Regime

  • 10 As state farms, sovkhozes had no land tenure right.
  • 11 See Box 1 for a detailed description of a “legal personality” affected by the Russian land market l (...)

9While all land was state-owned before 1990, kolkhozes and citizens still had a land-use right10. Indeed, constitutional rights to the enjoyment of land property had been defined to include plot land tenure for the citizen (Art. 13) and collective land tenure for kolkhozes (Art. 7). Since a land right was only a land-use right, the legislation did not distinguish the owner from the farmer, who had to be the same person. The legislation was therefore drafted for farmers after 1936: laws referred to the land tenure right of “kolkhozien”, “land plot” holder and even “peasant farmers”. After 1990, the new legislation kept this writing philosophy, even if the concepts of “legal person” (ûridičeskoe lico) and “natural person” (fizičeskoe lico) were used simultaneously11. Table 1 in the Appendix shows that most laws voted by the Parliament after 1990 specified the category of “farms” affected by the law rather than speaking of the right of a “legal personality” (pravosub’’ektnost’).

10Reading the legislation from the owners’ point of view rather than from the farmers’, we discover that, since 1990, Russian legislation recognized the land ownership right for a “natural person” and “legal person”, but did not allow either to sell or buy it (with a ten-year moratorium). After the collapse of the USSR, this right was used to transfer land ownership from the State to a legal personality. As such, legal persons and natural persons received land transferred from state ownership. Since 1992, the State can sell or rent its land property to a legal personality. The moratorium about the right to sell or buy land for legal persons and natural persons was removed in 2003 following the vote of the “law on transactions in agricultural land”.

Box 1. Definition of the legal personalities affected by the legislation on the Russian agricultural land market

  • 12 See Box 2 for definitions of corporate farms and independent corporate farms.
  • 13 The redistribution process kept the land and share capital aspects of a problem separate. Kolkhozie (...)

The legal personality owners of land can be either the “State”, a “local government entity” (Municipality, Raïon, Oblast’), a “legal person”, a “collective shared/undivided ownership” or a “natural person”.

The State and the local government entity refer to any district (Raïon), region (Oblast’), city and federal entity that own agricultural land.
A legal person can be any company (corporate farm
12 or firm) that is registered in the Russian Federation company register. Companies, the share capital of which is owned in majority by foreign investors, can only lease agricultural land but cannot own it.
The collective shared/undivided ownership (
obŝaâ dolevaâ sobstvennost’) refers to a group of “natural persons” that jointly received a parcel (generally from 10 ha. to 200 ha.) as a result of the farm-restructuring process. Their individual share of this parcel was legally represented by a dolâ. A dolâ is a title deed (a land share popularly named paï) distributed to each worker and retiree of a former large farming enterprise after the collapse of the USSR. Land share is a right to a part of the land of a large farm, but without specific demarcation of where it was located. Most members of a collectively owned land leased their land to corporate farms (or invested their dolâ in the equity capital of the enterprise13).
Until 2003, a “natural person” could own land resulting from the conversion of a
dolâ into a land plot or land given by the State after 1990. Since 2003, a natural person can also hold land that he bought from another legal personality (with restricted area depending on local legislation). Moreover, since 1993, household plot owners (see Box 2 for the definition) – considered as natural person by the Law – received a specific right to buy or sell physical land for their home consumption.

  • 14 The terminology is used in the legislation on land ownership and refers to the concept of community (...)
  • 15 Regardless of the cost of the paper for entitlement transformation into a land plot (Shagaida, 2008 (...)

11In addition, some citizens (such as “natural persons”) received a land share from a collectively owned land. Yet, they have only been entitled to sell their land share (first to other members of the collective14, and, since 1993, to any buyer). Having purchased a land share, the new shareowner can request its conversion to a land plot, but the Law does not define how to do this. Since 2003, the shareowner has to convince one third of the members of the community to remove his land share from the collective (shared) ownership15; however, since 1995, the “collective (shared) ownership” members have the right to collectively rent their parcels (i.e., the plot of land associated with the land shares) to any farm. This kind of land property therefore remains widespread in Russia. Figure 1 specifies the land area depending on the legal status of the owner:

Fig. 1. Structure of agricultural land* ownership in 2010 in Russia
(Estimated from the farm land* data, millions of hectares)

Fig. 1. Structure of agricultural land* ownership in 2010 in Russia (Estimated from the farm land* data, millions of hectares)

Source: Grouiez (2010: 405)

* “Farm land” (395 M. ha.) includes roads and buildings, whereas “agricultural land” is land without any road or building (220 M. ha.). Official Russian statistics (Rosreestr) only provide data on “farm land ownership”, whereas what is really exchanged in the land market is “agricultural land”; however, official statistics provide information on “agricultural land used by farms” (196 M. ha.) without any description on “agricultural land ownership”. We therefore assumed that the land received by kolkhoziens was agricultural land (thus without any roads or buildings), whereas the statistics only provide figures on “farm land collectively owned” (101 M. ha., which a priori included roads and buildings). Then, we assumed that these 101 M. ha. of collectively owned land was only agricultural land.

  • 16 In this article, we do not study the management of this State property, which, in majority, takes p (...)

12We can observe that most agricultural land used by farms is owned by a collective (50% according to our estimates: 100 M. ha./196 M. ha.). The second most important owner of agricultural land used by farms is the State (federal or local entities)16, with around 40% of agricultural land area, according to our estimates (75 M. ha./196 M. ha.). Around 8 M. ha of agricultural land used by farms were owned by “legal persons” (4%) and 17 M. ha (7%) were owned by “natural persons”.

13Two categories of actors took advantage of the land property right redistribution: the State (federal or local entities) and the community of land-share owners. Moreover, nine years after the law on transactions in agricultural land was voted, the transaction process did not lead to an appropriation of agricultural land by individual legal persons or natural persons.

Box 2. Categories of Russian producers

  • 17 There are three official categories of agricultural producers: corporate farms (independent or inte (...)
  • 18 For instance, Gazprom and Inrerros decided to diversify their business and tried to invest in agric (...)
  • 19 An initial analysis of the agroholdings was proposed by Ryl’ko and Jolly (2005). They defined agroh (...)
  • 20 Uzun (2005) argues that the biggest farms (1.4%) got 22.5% of all government subsidies.

Four different types of farms appeared during the Russian agriculture transformation17.
First, independent corporate farms emerged on the ruins of former kolkhozes and sovkhozes. These corporate farms had to face several economic issues: an outlet issue, problems with disproportionate prices on gasoline and agricultural production, etc. Whereas Gosplan controlled outputs of collective farms for the benefit of the agrofood industry, new independent corporate farms had to find buyers for their production by themselves. Still, the transition process increased the market power of the food industry (Ioffe and Nefedova, 2001). A concentration movement therefore took place in Russian agriculture after the 1998 financial crisis (Nikulin, 2010; Fadeeva, 2005). The more efficient independent corporate farms “bought” other farms to increase their own power of negotiation, while the range of their production did not really evolve (crops, milk production, etc.).
Partly because of the 1998 default in Russia, some oligarchs and big non-agricultural companies
18 (in the oil industry, banks, and so on) or “new investors” – in few regions, took control over some corporate farms after 2000. This had been integrated into agroholdings19. These integrated corporate farms were then restructured and specialized in food production with fast returns on investment (grains such as wheat and sunflower, pig and poultry breeding, sugar beet, etc.). As such, some new corporate farms increased their productivity substantially in comparison with non-integrated farms. The Russian government supported this restructuration, facilitating access to credit for new investors20.
Another category of farms developed after the collapse of the USSR were the individual (or peasant) farms. These farms are heterogeneous in terms of size production and capital level. The 1992 land reform saw them as the main actor in agricultural production and an opposition to Soviet kolkhozes, but they did not become a substantial factor in Russian agricultural production. Their lack of capital and problems accessing credit led them to specialize in low-investment production (crops, pig breeding and vegetables). To limit market negotiations, they primarily sell their production to middlemen or directly on the physical market.
Lastly, the Russian population
maintains possession of a plot of land, officially used for its home consumption: household plots.

14This situation can be explained by the compartmentalization of the land transaction market. Table 2 in the Appendix shows that the legislator attributes land transaction rights to a “legal personality” who holds the land, but defines his rights to sell or rent it depending on the status of the farm involved in the transaction (see Box 2 for a typology of farms).

15By this means, compartmentalization of the land transaction market occurs. The land transaction rights of each kind of legal personality depend on the nature of the farms with which the legal personality signed the contract. Indeed, agricultural land users (i.e., a “farmer”) cannot buy or lease a land from the State, a legal person, a natural person owner of land plot or a collective under the same juridical conditions.

16First, the transaction is concluded under the condition that all land should be used for agricultural purposes continuously.

17Secondly, the State and local governments have to call for tender to sell their state or municipal land. State-owned land has to be sold through auctions or other forms of competitive bidding, except if the land is bought by a household plot owner. State and local governments can also rent their land. They then have to call for tender. If they receive only one application for a land plot, they can rent out this land without competition. It they receive more than one application, the lease rights are awarded on the basis of competitive bidding or through an auction.

  • 21 That said, the household plot owner has to respect some conditions on maximum land area that he hol (...)

18Third, a legal personality can sell or rent his parcel to a household plot without condition21. If a legal personality wants to rent his land to another legal person (i.e., independent or integrated corporate farm) or to a natural person (i.e., individual farm), he is required to inform the local population by way of a local mass media. If a legal personality wants to sell his land to another legal or natural person, he is required to submit a written letter to the local government stating his intent to sell his land. The notification must indicate the price of the land. The local government has a right to purchase the land first. If the local government does not exercise its preemption right, then the seller has to publish his wish to sell in a local mass media. He has one year to sell the land to a legal or natural person at a price not lower than the one indicated in the letter submitted to the local government.

19Fourthly, a collective of collectively owned land can rent out land to a legal or natural person with the agreement of each member of the collective or that of the legally mandated body; however, the collective cannot sell collectively owned land to any legal personality (the trust management process that should state that it has never been ratified). To sell a piece of collectively owned land, each member has to convert his land share into a land plot (see the last line of Table 2 in the Appendix and the paragraphs below).

20That said, each member of the collective can sell, rent, mortgage or inherit his land share. He does have to inform the collective about his wish though. The notification can be made in a letter or published in the local newspaper. The other members have one month to exercise their right of first refusal. Then, the owner who wishes to sell has to inform the local government and indicate a minimum price for his land share. If the local government does not want to purchase the land share, the owner can sell it to any other legal personality but at a price not lower than the price indicated to the local administration.

  • 22 Other share owners can object to the proposed localization; the seller has to indicate land localiz (...)

21Lastly, it is very difficult for a collectively owned land member to separate his land plot among the parcel. He has to obtain permission from at least two thirds of the ownership group with an inquorate number of 20%. First, to convert a land share into a land plot, the land plot resulting from the conversion has to be larger than the minimum size of land plot for agricultural land defined by local administration. After getting permission from the group, he must specify the land plot localization, which involves very complex and costly procedures22. The new holder of the land plot can sell (or rent) it to a natural person (i.e., household plot or individual farm), whereas he can only rent it to a legal person (i.e., independent or integrated corporate farm).

22To reduce the collectively owned land area and the power of the collective, the law on transactions in agricultural land provided for the conversion of the land share into an actual land plot before January 1, 2007. If the owner of a land share did not convert it before this date, the paper entitlement fell within the provision of a trust management system. The trust management system transfers the abususi.e., the right to dispose of the property – to a manager who has to sell the land to a legal personality (legal or natural person); however, Article 16 (2), related to the trust management system, had never been ratified and was deleted on December 29, 2010.

23Whereas the best way to take ownership of collectively owned land is to buy all the land shares, this provision of the law on transactions in agricultural land is clearly intended to keep large farms from being fractured or owned by only one legal body. We will demonstrate that this kind of appropriation did not occur in the Orel Oblast’.

1. 2. Land Use Practices

24Figure 2 examines the structure of land ownership with the three main categories of users proposed by the Goskomstat (corporate farms, individual – or peasant – farms and household plots).

Fig. 2. Structure of land ownership by farm categories (in 2010, percent of agricultural land)

Fig. 2. Structure of land ownership by farm categories (in 2010, percent of agricultural land)

Sources: On the basis of the “zemel’nii fond RF, 2011” (Rosreestr).

25As far as corporate farms and peasant farms are concerned, about 30% of their land is state‑owned and about 70% owned by natural persons; however, all individually owned land used by corporate farms is in the form of collective (shared) ownership, while in household plots, the land is a physical plot owned by a natural person. Then, corporate farms lease their land resources from the community of land-share owners. We reported a similar finding from interviews we conducted in the Orel Oblast’ between 2005 and 2009 (Table 3). As for peasant farms, they also lease a part of their land to a collective of land-share owners (around 20%, represented by the category “other”), while 40% of their land belongs to them.

Table 3. Characteristic of the leasing contract for some corporate farms in the Orel Oblast’

Case study No.

Leasing contract with “land-share owners”

Sharecropping system

Total area (ha.)

Sharecropping area

% of the total area

Nature of the other leasing contracts

1

Yes

Yes

2,400

1,500

62

Leasing contract with the district administration

2

Yes

Yes

15,000

15,000

100

-

7

Yes

Yes

15,000

15,000

100

-

9

Yes

Yes

30,000

24,000

80

Leasing contract with the State 

11

Yes

No (monetary contract only)

20,000

16,000

80

Leasing contract with the district administration

14

Yes

Yes

800

800

100

-

15

Yes

Yes

2,000

1,300

65

Leasing contract with the district administration

21

Yes

No (monetary contract only)

43,000

41,000

95

Leasing contract with the district administration

29

No

Yes

3,736

0

0

Farm and land in state ownership

31

Yes

No

10,000

10,000

100

-

33

No

No

Nd

Nd

Nd

Farm and land in state ownership

35

Yes

Yes

3,000

1,800

60

Leasing contract with the Municipality

26Figure 2 shows that the communities of land-share owners seem to have an alternative between corporate farm and individual farmers to rent out their land. Moreover, we previously observed that in the Orel Oblast’, some collectively owned land has been leased by individual farmers (Grouiez, 2008, 2014).

27Then, we observed that the new land tenure regime led to the compartmentalization of the land transaction market. Moreover, we have just demonstrated that due to the land tenure regime, land-share owners have problems removing their land plots from the collective. Therefore, they cannot rent out their plot individually to farmers, especially because the legislation sets aside a minimum size for the conversion of a land share into physical land. This compartmentalization offered transaction power to two kinds of owners only: land-share owners and the State. Accordingly, land plots are relatively large in the land share category. In addition, the State and local government did not promote access of the land to small farms. Therefore, the size of leased land is relatively large in Russia. Only two kinds of farmers can access (lease or buy) to land owned by the State and collectives: corporate farms and the most capitalistic peasant farms. The land market is a restricted market in Russia, both in terms of its supply and demand.

2. How Key Actors Design an Enforced Structure Producing Desired Social Outcomes

28During our stay in Orel (April to August 2005, September to October 2006, and March to May 2009), we conducted 50 interviews with farms managers (large-scale or individual), rural population and policy makers. We supplemented this fieldwork with research on the website of the local newspaper – Orlovskaâ Pravda – using “conflict + land” as the keywords. In the newspaper, we found two cases of land management conflict dealing with the two farms that we interviewed. We used this material to reflect land management conflicts.

2. 1. The Origins of the Conflicts and the Conditions of a Well-Enforced Institutional Arrangement

  • 23 This question follows the idea of formal and informal rules where informal rules also contain enfor (...)

29We have already identified bundles of rights that contain prescriptions for actors. These prescriptions about actions are rules, which mean that they contain an additional assigned sanction if forbidden actions are observed by a monitor (Ostrom and Basurto, 2011). These top-level rules are made complete with norms that are generally acquired in the context of a community (for instance, a payoff norm, which requests a renting contract allowing access to food or fodder for land owners). The institutional arrangement that emerges must deal with these various levels of prescription and must include effective sanctions for forbidden actions to be correctly enforced, particularly if sanctions are not clearly defined, as is the case for the norms (2. 1. 1.)23; however, the ability to bring enforceable norms to a specific institutional arrangement depends on the position of actors according to their bundles of rights. We therefore propose classifying the types of property right holders according to their bundles of rights (2. 1. 2.).

2. 1. 1. “Payoff Norm” on Collectively Owned Land that is Rented and the Endowment Effect

30After ten years of collapse of the agricultural production, the 1998 financial crisis and devaluation provided some firms with great opportunities for new profits. This is why private companies from many sectors (banks, oil companies, etc.) invested in agricultural activities. The governor of the Orel region (E. Stroev) supported many investors’ initiatives, offering easier access to land (state or collectively owned) and credits.

  • 24 This did not mean that the local politicians did not use the collective to hoard money and farms. Y (...)

31Moreover, Stroev protected the land rights of the land-share owners in Orel. Indeed, since the end of the Soviet period, the collective land property system allows the Russian rural population to obtain social services (see O’Brien, 2002; O’Brien et al., 1998; Wegren, 2002). Therefore, Stroev encouraged new investors to sign a lease contract with the collective of the land-share owners. At this time, many of Stroev’s speeches were in favor of the rights to collect food, fodder and other social benefits from a land-share lease contract24.

  • 25 See Ryl’ko and Jolly (2005), Uzun (2012).

32Consequently, there were two opposing views regarding land use: the investors’ position, which was to consider land as an input for fast returns on investment25, and the land‑share owners’ position, which was based on a conception of the land as a right to social grants.

  • 26 Another case study is the case of American Indians: Small and Sheehan (2008: 106) showed that “indi (...)

33Existence of opposing views regarding natural resources has already been observed in other case studies. For instance, Cole and Ostrom (2011) noted that in the US, where forests are under different property regimes (government, private), land use sometimes meets enhanced social goals (biodiversity protection, improved livelihoods, etc.)26. They then observed that “it is not the general system of property rights used for forest governance that is crucial in predicting whether forest conditions are sustainable. Rather, it is how a particular governance regime is developed and adapted over time and whether users consider the system to be legitimate and equitable […]” (Cole and Ostrom, 2011: 52).

  • 27 Payoff rules affect the benefits and costs assigned to actors in light of the outcomes achieved an (...)

34In principle, the land tenure regime guarantees that the contracts established by a collective (or the State) with a new investor (or an individual farmer) are respected. The application of the rights and duties of each contracting party still have to be enforced by particular governance regimes when conflicting interests occur. For instance, if share owners demand a payment in kind to the buyer and new investors prefer paying in cash for economic reasons, governance regime has to guarantee the principal that renting contract allows access to food or fodder for land owner. However, the degree of effectivity of the enforcement mechanism depends on the nature of the rule structure that must be enforced. On the one hand, investors who rent land to a collective can argue that the law contains only prescriptions and sanctions if you do not pay for land rent (it is a “rule” in the Ostrom and Basurto [2011: 322-323] terminology). On the other hand, shareowners bring a “payoff rule”27 linked to a “norm”, which says that collective-land property should offer a way to ensure inputs (i.e., grain) for household plots. The new legal regime and transaction process have then created moral claims for land-share owners.

  • 28 The endowment effect is the hypothesis that people's willingness to accept (WTA) compensation for a (...)

35Nevertheless, rather than addressing legitimate concerns about payoff rules, new investors tried to appropriate land in the context of legal uncertainty (for more details, see 2. 2.). Therefore, exogenously imposed changes – i.e., the land-grabbing attitude of new investors due to the ruble devaluation following the 1998 financial crisis – can result in a loss of psychological or sociological entitlement for resource owners (called an “endowment effect”28 in economic literature). In other words, “land-share owners” place greater value on their land property than on the value given by new investors to the same land asset. The value difference can be explained by the psychological or social entitlement attached to the land property (the principle that land property allows access to food or fodder for land owners).

2. 1. 2. The Position Key Issue Towards Bundles of Rights in the Institutional Arrangement

  • 29 According to Schlager and Ostrom (1992: 250-251): “Access [is] the right to enter a defined physica (...)

36To be enforced, the institutional arrangement emerging from this value conflict must limit any endowment effect on land-share owners, but the existence of the endowment effect depends on the specific rights attributed to each actor involved in land resource management. To describe rights attributions regarding land resource management, Schlager and Ostrom (1992) distinguish between operational-level rights, allowing for access, and withdrawal of a resource and collective-choice rights, allowing for participation in management, exclusion and alienation decisions29. Referring to the land property regime (see Part 1.), we must consider that land-share owners (or the State in case of land state property) have collective-choice rights, whereas new investors (or individual farmers) enjoy operational-level rights. In practice, however, new investors or individual farmers – claimants in the Schlager and Ostrom’s framework – invest more in land resources than owners (or the State) do. Therefore, land-share owners do not really benefit from the exclusion right. The exclusion right has been transferred to the local government, which negotiates land access with new investors (see 2. 2.). Arbitration between individual farmers and new investors is then much more a local government decision than a collective choice by land-share owners.

  • 30 For instance, E. Ostrom conducted a field study on the management of irrigation systems in villages (...)

37Consequently, there is a resource with multiple valued uses, multiple groups of users (communities), and different users have different types of rights (de jure and de facto rights) for different aspects of the valued uses of this resource. To be enforced, the emerging institutional arrangement must create incentive mechanisms that respect the interests of each community involved in the resource management (land-share owners, the State, new investors and individual farmers)30. Conflicts arising from different interests may be challenging but they may be somewhat resolvable through marginal adjustments among claims of similar rights.

38To describe the well-enforced institutional arrangement arising from the conflict between individuals and communities under the Russian land tenure regime, we must identify the conditions that allow most resource actors – claimants, proprietors or owners – to participate in land holding. Elinor Ostrom’s framework for the analysis of institutional arrangement is used for an investigation of land use practices (Ostrom, 1990; Cole and Ostrom [eds.], 2011). Ostrom’s framework identifies seven “design principles” in the stable local management of common pool resources: Clearly defined boundaries, i.e., effective exclusion of external non‑entitled parties; rules regarding the appropriation and provision of common resources that are adapted to local conditions; collective-choice arrangements that allow most resource appropriators to participate in the decision-making process; effective monitoring by supervisors who are part of or accountable to the appropriators; a scale of graduated sanctions for resource appropriators who violate community rules; cheap and readily accessible conflict resolution mechanisms; and the community’s self-determination as recognized by higher‑level authorities.

2. 2. The System’s Operation

39We would like to demonstrate that several communities take part in the regulation process to guarantee enforcement mechanisms for the institutional arrangement. Communities include not only land holders but also a wide range of stakeholders, from local politicians to journalists. We therefore mobilize the seven “design principles” to analyze two case studies (Nobel Agro and the OOO Zarâ) in the Orel Oblast’. We propose testing the hypothesis that the selection of land users by communities is based on their ability to sustain social services linked to land property.

40We must keep in mind that land-share owners must be considered very precarious owners whose rights cannot be protected without the commitment of other communities. For instance, in the Moscow Oblast’, many communities were unable to preserve their land property because of corruption. Local politicians did not defend them against real estate developers (Shagaida, 2008). Yet, in the Orel Oblast’, Governor Stroev’s wish was to sustain the collectives of share owners as a real institution as has been publicly declared (see 2. 1.). According to Ostrom’s framework (Institutional Analysis and Development), the local government took part in the definition of the owners (i.e., the collectives) who are accountable for the appropriation of a resource (i.e., the collectively owned land). With the help of the legislation (see Part 1. of this article), the collective of land-share owners appears as an effective “owner” for the long-term sustainable resource yields in a common objective; however, if the interests of the “owners” do not coincide with those of the local government for a certain period of time, the defense of land rights will be unenforced and other communities may take over the local government.

2. 2. 1. Nobel Agro Case Study

41Nobel Agro is an oil company (Nobel Oil) that bought two former collective farms in the Orel Oblast’ in 2002 with the help of the local government. In 2007, a journalist of the Orlovskaâ Pravda newspaper received a letter from the collective of collectively owned land used by Nobel Agro. In the letter, the collective mentioned that, in 2002, Nobel Agro had signed a lease contract (tenant farming contract) with the members of the collective. The contract specified that “land-share owners would receive one quintal per hectare per years plus two quintals of feed plus the plowing of the household plot in exchange for the lease contract”. This is an excerpt of the letter received by the Nobel Oil chairman one year after the agreement (in 2003):

Now in the term of a long wait we arrived at the conclusion that the way with which you used our land is a theft. Instead of giving us cereal, you gave us a sum of money the value of which is ten times lower than the payment in kind.

42After the letter, the owners received some cereal, but much less of it than the quantity mentioned in the contract. The journalist then investigated and discovered that, during a meeting in 2002, Nobel Oil came to a tacit agreement with the 2,500 members of the collective. Moreover, during the meeting in city hall, Nobel Oil committed to maintaining the multi-functionality of the former kolkhozes (especially where milk production was concerned) to meet the food requirements of the rural population. The journalist came to the administration of the Raïon, i.e., the District, where the writing contract terms had been officially declared, but discovered that the terms of the contract had been changed. Instead of cereal, the population was to receive R 102 per hectare per year. Moreover, Nobel Oil stopped the milk production only six months after the day of the meeting. Between 2003 and 2007, the païshiki received only R 95/hectare/year.

43Moreover, E. Stroev did not support the interests of the land-share owners – again the principles he defended in his speeches – because the chairman of Nobel Oil allowed Stroev’s daughter to win a contract for her construction firm in the Oblast’ (region) where Nobel Oil operates.

44In 2007, Mr. Gromov, president of the district, sent a letter to the chairman of Nobel Oil, ignoring the Stroev’s opinion, and said that “massive complaints coming from the owners who ask to be paid in cereal instead of being paid in money”. Mr. Gurevitch (the chairman of Nobel Oil) was committed to resolving the conflict, but did nothing. On December 5, 2007, the 2,500 members of the collective reacted in a certified letter. The letter was signed by each member of the collective who asked for the terms of the official contract to be changed. Yet Mr. Gurevitch did nothing and the collective sent a copy of the letter to the juridical ministry. Two years later, the ministry demanded that Nobel Oil change the terms in the official contract and enforced its compliance with the tacit agreement voted during the 2002 meeting.

45Collective land property then seemed to be a good instrument to negotiate social welfare. Without the 2,500 signatures, members of the collective would never have been able to exercise their full rights. In the Orel Oblast’, we observed that some rural communities adapted the land tenure regime after the collapse of the Soviet regime to ensure the land’s service characteristics. Community members who owned land used by Nobel Agro clearly considered the lease contract as a way to keep collective ownership of the land – against the land-grabbing attitude – and as a way to preserve the social role ensured by the collective land ownership (i.e., the fact that land share property allows access to a part of the production of the large-scale farm for the household plot production).

46Lease contracts were, however, adopted by Nobel Oil as a way to grab land. A conflict therefore occurred between the two kinds of land resource interests. An institutional arrangement between the new investors’ need for land and the community’s interests in sustaining land-social characteristics was established. The conditions of design principles established in Ostrom’s framework (IAD) can be identified in this case study:

  1. Clearly defined boundaries, i.e., effective exclusion of external non-entitled parties: This first condition was guaranteed by the legislation (see Part 1.).

  2. Rules regarding the appropriation and provision of common resources that are adapted to local conditions: We identified the legal conditions for the appropriation of collectively owned land by legal persons. The conflict between Nobel Agro and the collective proves that local conditions (i.e., payoff norm) were also defined.

  3. Collective-choice arrangements that allow most resource appropriators to participate in the decision-making process: As a first step in this case study, a collective-choice arrangement did not emerge since Nobel Agro did not admit to guaranteeing social services attached to the land property. The local newspaper then played middleman to help the population be heard by firm managers.

  4. Effective monitoring by supervisors who are part of or accountable to the appropriators: The community of land owners mobilized the mass media and legislation to fight for their rights.

  5. A scale of graduated sanctions for resource appropriators who violate community rules: Not clearly defined here.

  6. Cheap and readily accessible conflict resolution mechanisms: Not clearly defined here. It would explain why the conflict lasted six years and why many communities have been involved in the conflict resolution.

  7. Self-determination of the community as recognized by higher-level authorities: It was clearly the spirit of “the law on transactions in agricultural land” subject to the local government’s implementation of the legislation.

47A rather well-enforced institutional arrangement was then implemented on the basis of these design principles, only because of the involvement of many other communities (see Figure 3). Among them, the local government first seemed to act only as a middleman looking for new investors and helping an appropriator to sign the contract with the collective of land‑share owners. The local newspaper replaced the Court when legal mechanisms could not be used by owners to protect their bundles of rights, especially because of the particular interests of Stroev’s family. Indeed, the land-share owners mobilized the local newspaper to bring moral claims to the civil society. In this case study, the local newspaper was able to guarantee the existence of information for any player as soon as information rules were not clearly defined by institutional mechanisms (see Ostrom and Basurto, 2011: 323-324).

48In this case study, the institutional arrangement was based on the land tenure regime, which described rights and duties for each actor and community involved in the land transaction process; however, the well-enforced institutional arrangement depended on the local newspaper that brought in the civil society the de facto right (payoff norm), which can be resumed by “land property allows access to food or fodder for land owners”. The newspaper reporters resolved the issue regarding the endowment effect for land-share owners and became a part of the enforcement mechanisms of the institutional arrangement between land‑share owners, new investors (i.e., Nobel Oil) and the local government.

Fig. 3. Well-enforced institutional arrangement mechanisms in the Nobel Oil case study

Fig. 3. Well-enforced institutional arrangement mechanisms in the Nobel Oil case study

2. 2. 2. OOO Zapâ Case Study

49The enforced institutional arrangement mechanisms can be illustrated by another case study. A former kolkhoz named “Iskra” was dismantled in 1992. It became a SPK (“Repninskij”). The capital of the former kolkhoz was appropriated by Mr. Danilov, a local politician, whereas the land was transferred to the local population, which has owned it collectively since then. With the capital of the former kolkhoz, Mr. Danilov created the OOO Zapâ and signed a 49-year rent contract with each of the land-share owners for a total of 2,400 hectares. At that time, he employed 45 workers in a milk-breeding plant. In 2008, the benefits of both milk and grain productions fell sharply. Mr. Danilov therefore decided to transfer 1,200 hectares of the land he leased to the OOO Obniskij Hlebokombinat without the permission of the land-share owners. The owners led a kind of “class action” suit in the District Court but did not complete it due to the period of limitation. At the end of 2008, Mr. Danilov left the plant with the capital (both the cows and machinery). The land that he abandoned (1,200 ha., the other 1,200 ha. being sublet to OOO Obniskij Hlebokombinat) has since been sublet by the local population to an individual farmer: Ms. Erohina. She decided to take legal action in the District Court to be recognized as the unique land tenant. The land-share owners supported her in this legal action pointing out that, contrary to Mr. Danilov:

  • She employed 90 workers;

  • She invested in new water pumps for the wells in the village;

  • She maintains the roads around the village;

  • She helps the day nursery by providing it with milk products and grant supports.

  • 31 During the Soviet period, collective farms acted not only as production units but also as social in (...)

50Once again, the locals used their newspaper to sustain the land’s service characteristics31. In a letter they sent to the editorial office, they reminded readers that the former Orel Oblast’ Governor, Mr. Stroev, had asked the land-share owners not to sell their land for cash for many years and to rent out it for social supports. Ms. Ehoina now awaits the Court’s judgment while still using the land.

51Another enforced institutional arrangement that should be analyzed using Ostrom’s framework has been established between the new investors’ need for land and the community’s interests in sustaining land-social characteristics as a common pool resource. The conditions of design principles established in Ostrom’s framework can be identified in this case study:

  1. Clearly defined boundaries, i.e., effective exclusion of external non-entitled parties: This first condition was guaranteed by the legislation (see Part 1.) and the involvement of the local government. In this case study, the District Court recognized the right of the locals to lead a type of “class action” suit against Mr. Danilov because he failed to comply with the property rights of the local community when he subleased the land that he had previously leased to the local population to another party.

  2. Rules regarding the appropriation and provision of common resources that are adapted to local conditions: We identified legal conditions for the appropriation of collectively owned land by legal persons. The conflict between Mr. Danilov and the collective proves that local conditions have also been defined (i.e., payoff norm about the need to provide services and not only to pay for land-leasing).

  3. Collective-choice arrangements that allow most resource appropriators to participate in the decision-making process: In this case study, the conditions are meant to guarantee the social services attached to the land property. Furthermore, the local newspaper seems to act as a middleman who looks for the best way to rent out the land and help the population be heard by the local government. In this way, Ms. Erohina has been supported by the community to participate in the land appropriation debate.

  4. Effective monitoring by supervisors who are part of or accountable to the appropriators: The community of land owners mobilized the mass media and legislation to fight for their rights.

  5. A scale of graduated sanctions for resource appropriators who violate community rules: Clearly defined in this case study by the class action and recognition of the District Court of the right of land-share owners, even if a time-out problem has been referred to.

  6. Cheap and readily accessible conflict resolution mechanisms: Clearly defined here: The District Court is the main actor.

  7. Self-determination of the community as recognized by higher-level authorities: As previously mentioned, it was clearly the spirit of “the law on transactions in agricultural land” subject to the local government’s implementation of the legislation. In this case study, the District Court has not yet announced its decision, but the locals, through their self‑determination, have rented out their land to Ms. Ehoina without any legal opposition.

52The very first institutional arrangement led to the land-grabbing attitude of Mr. Danilov and had not been well enforced. The land-share owners defended their moral claims (the payoff norm) by looking for a new investor who would be ready to play a social role. The compromise they found with Ms. Erohina seems to be a new institutional arrangement that remains to be enforced; however, even if the de jure rights have not yet been recognized by the Court, the de facto rights have been recognized at the local level of government. This institutional equilibrium can be explained by the recognition by Ms. Erohina of the psychological and sociological entitlements attached to land-share owner property (the principle that land property allows access to food, fodder or social services for land owners). If, like Ms. Erohina, individual farmers are able to support social grants in the future, then we may witness a greater part of the land lease contracts being signed with individual farmers rather than with large-scale agricultural production units.

53The de facto rights observed in this case study comply with the conclusion of Cole and Grosman (2002) who stated that rights may be established and recognized by various bodies as long as they have been invested with some legitimate rule-making authority. A community (i.e., the land-share owners and local district) can establish some consent in a less formal way – by social conventions for instance – as long as these conventions create duties recognized by others.

3. Discussion

  • 32 It is Ostrom’s eighth design principle: “monitoring, enforcement, conflict resolution and governanc (...)

54Ostrom stressed the difference between what is written in legal documents and the way in which the law is actually enacted. Her method consisted in classifying five types of property‑right holders instead of focusing on one right in a bundle. In the paper, we used this method to investigate rules-in-use (Part 1.) and describe the bundles of rights of communities (2. 1.); however, we showed that the distinction between authorized users, claimants, proprietors and owners regarding their bundles of rights is not so clear-cut in the Russian case study. It is indisputably a limitation of the Ostrom framework in our field research. “Common-property regime” in land does not necessarily give Russian owners (the community of land-share owners) the possibility of earning income from the resource. We therefore focused our analysis on the process that led to an institutional arrangement between appropriators and land-share owners. Excluding some resource appropriators seems defined in the enforcement mechanism. In the two case studies we showed that holders required many stakeholders to ensure their exclusion right and community norms. Collective land seems to be a resource from a larger system that requires nested going concerns32 (in the sense of Commons, 1934). The sustainability of the arrangement depends on the community’s ability to ensure that the norms last. The way in which to analyze institutional change could be the subject of further study regarding the conversion of norm into rule with the tools proposed by Ostrom and Basurto (2011).

Conclusion

55In the first part of the article, we observed that the land tenure regime created compartmentalization of the land market in Russia. Then, the land tenure regime offered a market power for two actors: the State and community of land-share owners. Land-share owners still had problems removing their land plot from the land-share ownership. Accordingly, we concluded to the market supply restriction of agricultural land and market demand restriction due to the minimum size of many land plots. Two types of demanders play an important role in the agricultural land market: new investors and individual farmers. We would therefore have observed the same trend in the Orel Oblast’ as the one observed in many other regions: the land-grabbing attitude of new investors without any consideration for land‑share owner communities or the persistence of communities of land-share owners unable to find new investors.

56Yet, in the second part of this article, we concluded that the existence of conflicts of interest between land-share owners and new investors (i.e., social interests versus fast return on investment attitude) drove new investors to rent out collectively owned land. To explain this situation, we first recalled that the existence of opposing views regarding natural resource has already been observed in other case studies (Cole and Ostrom [eds.], 2011). Moreover, we noted that it is not the general system of property rights that is crucial to resolve conflicts but the well-enforced mechanisms of the institutional arrangement that emerges from a particular governance regime. Through the observation of two case studies (Nobel Agro and OOO Zapâ), we then demonstrated that with the help of multiple communities (such as: newspaper reporters who are members of the civil society, local district politicians, court judges, etc.), the well-enforced institutional arrangement took place. Land-share owners and new investors reached a negotiated compromise and shared both collective-choice property rights and operational-level property rights on agricultural land, as defined by Schlager and Ostrom (1992). In Orel, a stable local land tenure regime emerged, through which de jure rules on the appropriation of land have been preserved, whereas de facto rules (payoff norm) on the use of the land supported by the community have been recognized (which explains why land-share owners prefer renting land plot rather than selling it, solving the first puzzle presented in the introduction).

57The Orel institutional arrangement created specific incentives to respect each value given by each community to the agricultural land. The institutional process helped to recognize land‑share ownership (providing an explanation for the second puzzle presented in the introduction). Furthermore, this process has made it possible to develop rules-in-use that deal both with the business interests of national and international firms and with the social interest of the local community in terms of food security and social welfare.

58Some other case studies of conflicts between land-share owners and new investors should demonstrate that, with the help of the legislation and the Orel collective rules-in-use – under local governance regime – communities are able to sustain the land’s service characteristics. Yet, the conflict between Nobel Agro and the land-share owners, and Ehoina’s court action both represent the rural population’s wish to preserve its collective (shared) ownership and use it as a means to sustain the land’s service characteristics. Conditions established by the communities appear as an explanatory factor for the selection of large-scale agricultural production units by land-share owners instead of individual farms (solving the third puzzle presented in the introduction). After the collapse of the USSR, the land-share owners considered that large‑scale agricultural production units could finance the land’s social service characteristics; however, the Erohina’s case study proves that the population does not care about who the appropriator of the land is (in terms of farm characteristics) as long as the appropriator can provide social services. In the future, and if individual farmers are able to finance social services, statistics may reveal a significant decrease in farm size.

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Visser O. (2006), “Property, Labor Relations and Social Obligations in Russia’s Privatised Farm Entreprises”, in Franz von Benda-Beckmann, Keebet von Benda-Beckmann, Melanie G. Wiber (eds), Changing Properties of Property, Berghahan Books, pp. 126-146.

Wandel, J. (2007), “Integrated Structures, Market Forces and Competition in Russia’s Agro-Food Sector: An Assessment from the Perspective of the Austrian School of Economics”, 102th EAAE Seminar ‘Superlarge Farming Companies: Emergence and Possible Impacts’, Moscou, 2-4 September 2007 (Moscou, EAAE).

Wegren K. S. (2002), “Rural Land Privatization in Russia”, Economic Systems, n° 26, pp. 175-178.

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Notes

1 Eggertsson (1990: 254) has called it “the naive theory of property rights”.

2 We identified different configurations of human cooperation: collective of land-share owners; land-share owners cooperating with farmers or politicians, etc. Each constituted group that we observed sets up a community in the sense given by the Bloomington school. In this theoretical framework, community is not considered to be a civil society or an organizational form (see Chanteau and Labrousse in this issue). It is much more a group of actors whose identity-formation is the result of the goodwill to shape a collective action framework to solve a problem. The communities that we observed interact with each other, such that they form “nested communities”. They are nested communities not only because they lead actions at different levels (local, regional or national), but also because each actor can take part in actions simultaneously in different communities.

3 Ostrom insisted on the difference she made between formal rules and rules-in-use: “Contemporary scholarship tends to focus on rules that are formally prescribed by a national government, but we must understand the process of rule change at a community level as well, even when the rules-in-use are not formally written by those using them to structure their daily interactions” (Ostrom and Basurto, 2011: 322).

4 Indeed, rules can be developed at a local-government level to increase the performance of communal property-rights systems (Ostrom, 1992b, 1993) or structure (and perform) institutional arrangements (Ostrom, 1990: 88-91). In this paper, we only focus on the local rules devoted to the enforcement mechanism, considering that the rights enforcement regimes must be questioned in the context of regular changes in land rights regimes and practices.

5 This distinction enables Ostrom to describe a given rule structure, informing on positions of individual or collective actors engaged in a conflict or compromise: “strategies are the plans made by individuals in a situation as to what actions they plan to undertake so as to achieve outcomes given their information about the basic structure of the situation. Norms and rules both contain prescriptions: the musts, musts not and may of deontic logic. Norms are prescriptions about actions or outcomes that are not focus on short-term material payoffs to self. […] Rules are linguistic statements containing prescriptions similar to norms, but rules carry an additional assigned sanction if forbidden actions are taken and observed by a monitor” (Ostrom and Basurto, 2011: 321-322).

6 This distinction between holders is fundamental in the Ostrom framework because it helps to propose a differentiation between rights of access and withdrawal, management, exclusion and alienation for a specific resource. These “bundles” of rights define the position of each individual actor and community and their management power.

7 Especially between local rules resulting from national policies and local norms (or duties) of land proprietors.

8 See Box 2 for a definition of new investors.

9 Methodologically speaking, this resembles the method proposed by Favereau and Robé (2012) when they speak of the fundamental rights of each stakeholder involved in the firm management to redefine the boundaries of the firm.

10 As state farms, sovkhozes had no land tenure right.

11 See Box 1 for a detailed description of a “legal personality” affected by the Russian land market legislation.

12 See Box 2 for definitions of corporate farms and independent corporate farms.

13 The redistribution process kept the land and share capital aspects of a problem separate. Kolkhoziens received two vouchers (one as land paper entitlement [dolâ] and the other as share capital paper entitlement [paï]). Yet, the popular view and formal rules on transactions in land maintained confusion between both kinds of property. See Grouiez (2008) for more explanations.

14 The terminology is used in the legislation on land ownership and refers to the concept of community that is examined in this article.

15 Regardless of the cost of the paper for entitlement transformation into a land plot (Shagaida, 2008).

16 In this article, we do not study the management of this State property, which, in majority, takes place at the local level and depends on the wish of local politicians. It is indisputably a crucial issue but we lack information on the concrete allocation process of land owned by the local government.

17 There are three official categories of agricultural producers: corporate farms (independent or integrated without distinction) (in Russian: sel’skohozâjstvennye predpriâtiâ), peasant farms (krest’ânskie (fermerskie) hozjstva) and household farms (ličhye podsobnye hozâjstva). This classification is used in official statistics. As the reader will observe, we propose a new representation of Russian agriculture here, which helps to integrate the sub-category of companies – agroholdings – which differs from others and must be considered as a real organizational innovation (Grouiez, 2014).

18 For instance, Gazprom and Inrerros decided to diversify their business and tried to invest in agriculture (Fadeeva, 2005) knowing that grain could produce bigger returns than oil (Serova, 2002); however, a substantial part of these experiments failed (Nikulin, 2010).

19 An initial analysis of the agroholdings was proposed by Ryl’ko and Jolly (2005). They defined agroholdings as commercial farms controlled by entities whose core business is outside the agricultural sector, but Wandel (2007) points out the fact that agroholdings can also be under the control of a regional authority. In this article, we define an agroholding as an organization owned by public or private investors whose core business is outside the agricultural sector, aiming at integrating farms into a supply chain. This means that the efficiency of an agroholding has to be evaluated according to this goal. According to Uzun (2012), in 2006, 21% of large and medium agricultural firms were part of different agroholdings.

20 Uzun (2005) argues that the biggest farms (1.4%) got 22.5% of all government subsidies.

21 That said, the household plot owner has to respect some conditions on maximum land area that he holds and use the land only for his home consumption.

22 Other share owners can object to the proposed localization; the seller has to indicate land localization and compensation for the land to the other members. The Russian government has not yet established the procedures in case of disagreement with the other share owners, etc.

23 This question follows the idea of formal and informal rules where informal rules also contain enforceable mechanisms via actors’ actions. The differentiation between formal and informal rules is already present in Ostrom (1986) who, by introducing the notion of rule-in-use, viewed rules as prescribing room for action rather than determining attitude. Schlager and Ostrom (1992) went further in developing notions of de jure and de facto rights. Rights are considered de facto if they are not recognized by government authorities, as opposed to de jure rights.

24 This did not mean that the local politicians did not use the collective to hoard money and farms. Yet, many of Stroev’s statements show that the local government acts for the legal recognition of shared land rights (see Orlovskaâ Pravda August 4, 2007, “Novoye gorizonty Verhovskogo rajona”; Orlovskaâ Pravda August 1, 2008, “Hleb – vsemu golova”; Orlovskaâ Pravda, September 13, 2008, “Agrofest-Orel: stznovlenie sostoâlos’”; Orlovskaâ Pravda October 3, 2008, “živêt pokrovskoe selo”).

25 See Ryl’ko and Jolly (2005), Uzun (2012).

26 Another case study is the case of American Indians: Small and Sheehan (2008: 106) showed that “indigenous people do not view land as individual property, but rather as a part of an ethical/spiritual/legal matrix of rights, obligations, and community relationships”. Consequently, the regulators have imposed a special regime of land property for American Indians to prevent transactions from common to private property from eroding psychological and possibly economic values representing a loss of psychological entitlement, as well as an economic loss for American Indians.

27 Payoff rules affect the benefits and costs assigned to actors in light of the outcomes achieved and the action chosen by actors” (Ostrom and Basurto, 2011: 324).

28 The endowment effect is the hypothesis that people's willingness to accept (WTA) compensation for a good is lower than their willingness to pay (WTP) for it once their property right to it has been established. Then, people value an object more if their ownership is clearly established than if they did not own that same object.

29 According to Schlager and Ostrom (1992: 250-251): “Access [is] the right to enter a defined physical property. Withdrawal [is] the right to obtain the “products” of a resource (e.g., catch fish, appropriate, water, etc.). […] Management [is] the right to regulate internal use patterns and transform the resource by making improvements. Exclusion [is] the right to determine who will have an access right, and how that right may be transferred. Alienation [is] the right to sell or lease either or both of the above collective-choice rights.”

30 For instance, E. Ostrom conducted a field study on the management of irrigation systems in villages of Western Nepal. Ostrom’s work considered how societies in Nepal developed various institutional arrangements to manage a sustainable system of irrigation without direct state contribution, but in accordance with the law.

31 During the Soviet period, collective farms acted not only as production units but also as social institutions, regulating a significant part of everyday life in the villages. Kolkhozes and sovkhozes then managed a lot of collective goods including primary schools, health centers, roads, etc. The economic and social reforms carried out at the beginning of the 90s aimed at transferring these prerogatives to the local administration, but they did not succeed (Visser, 2006). The wish of sustaining the land’s service characteristics then results from an institutional heritage. The fact that the farm for managing collective goods appears in an altered form, a “payoff norm” leads the social role of the farm to path dependence (Ostrom, 1990).

32 It is Ostrom’s eighth design principle: “monitoring, enforcement, conflict resolution and governance activities are organized in multiple layers of nested enterprises” (Ostrom, 1990: 90).

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Table des illustrations

Titre Fig. 1. Structure of agricultural land* ownership in 2010 in Russia (Estimated from the farm land* data, millions of hectares)
Crédits Source: Grouiez (2010: 405)
URL http://regulation.revues.org/docannexe/image/10496/img-1.png
Fichier image/png, 38k
Titre Fig. 2. Structure of land ownership by farm categories (in 2010, percent of agricultural land)
Crédits Sources: On the basis of the “zemel’nii fond RF, 2011” (Rosreestr).
URL http://regulation.revues.org/docannexe/image/10496/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 76k
Titre Fig. 3. Well-enforced institutional arrangement mechanisms in the Nobel Oil case study
URL http://regulation.revues.org/docannexe/image/10496/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 60k
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Référence électronique

Pascal Grouiez, « Understanding the puzzling resilience of the land share ownership in Russia: the input of Ostrom’s approach », Revue de la régulation [En ligne], 14 | 2e semestre / Autumn 2013, mis en ligne le 14 février 2014, consulté le 23 avril 2017. URL : http://regulation.revues.org/10496

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Pascal Grouiez

Associate Professor, université Paris Diderot, Sorbonne Paris Cité, Ladyss, UMR 7533, pascal.grouiez@gmail.com

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