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Institutions and Self-Governing Social Systems: Linking Reflexivity and Institutional Theories for Cybersecurity and Other Commons Governance Policies Open Access

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A commons is the conventional term that describes a widely accessible and shared resource, such as an ocean, open rangeland, a public park, or public portions of the Internet, which is difficult to exclude or limit use once naturally provided or humanly produced. Ruin of a commons can result when individuals use the resource recklessly and selfishly, rather than adhering to conservation-minded, collective action, with a view toward preserving the commons for future generations, in cooperation with others in the community. Employing a mixed methods research design with the U.S. Federal government's use of the Internet as an illustrative case, the research described here explores how Reflexivity Theory and Institutional Theory, and their common theoretical element of human agency, can be used in developing new policy concepts for commons governance. The research answers the questions, "How may Reflexivity and Institutional Theories be used to help improve the formulation of commons governance policies?" and "How may Reflexivity and Institutional Theories be used to improve Federal cybersecurity policies governing use of the Internet?" Through interviews and an Internet-based survey to collect and analyze data, the research demonstrates that elements of these theories can be used to inform both Federal cybersecurity policies and governance policies affecting other commons.

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