This bibliography of case studies of knowledge commons in the environmental context was prepared by Ming Yi, a student at the New York University School of Law, in February 2023.
I. IAD framework
The first main topic of the bibliography contains case studies that are related to the communication of environmental information, such as forestry information. The primary focus areas of these studies include –
(i) Diversity of actors in the commons.
These studies center on the challenges posed by the heterogeneity of actors. Environment knowledge commons usually include actors with diverse roles, interests, levels of knowledge and skills, etc. This attribute of the community creates difficulties for the governance of knowledge, because different actors may hold conflicting perspectives regarding the distribution of power and access to information and resources. A substantial portion of the literature is dedicated to exploring these realities of environment knowledge commons. For example, the study by Andersson and Hoskins evaluates the impact of asymmetries of information and power on the outcomes of the commons, as well as the type of information flow and governance mechanisms that are necessary. Banjade et al. conducted a more in-depth investigation of the diversity of actors in an environment knowledge commons in Nepal, taking into account factors such as gender, race, socioeconomic status, and ethnicity, and analyzed their effect on the outcome of the commons.
Articles in this field:
1. Andersson, K. P., & Hoskins, M. W. (2004). Information Use and Abuse in the Local Governance of Common-Pool Forest Resources. Forests, Trees and Livelihoods, 14(2-4), 295-312.
2. Banjade, M. R., Schanz, H., & Leeuwis, C. (2006). Discourses of Information in Community Forest User Groups in Nepal. International Forestry Review, 8(2), 229-240.
3. André, K., Baird, J., Gerger Swartling, Å., Vulturius, G., & Plummer, R. (2017). Analysis of Swedish Forest Owners’ Information and Knowledge-sharing Networks for Decision-making: Insights for Climate Change Communication and Adaptation. Environmental Management, 59(6), 885-897.
4. Scheba, A., & Mustalahti, I. (2015). Rethinking ‘Expert’Knowledge in Community Forest Management in Tanzania. Forest Policy and Economics, 60, 7-18.
5. Janse, G. (2007). Characteristics and Challenges of Forest Sector Communication in the EU. Silva Fennica, 41(4), 731.
(ii) The interface between the research community and the users of research results.
The literature in this area concerns how knowledge commons provide a channel to connect the research community and the users of research results. For instance, Seppälä addresses the issue of information overpopulation and the role that the Global Forest Information Service plays in enhancing the quality and relevance of information.
Articles in this field:
1. Seppälä, R. (2004). Better Information for Good Governance of Forests. Forest Research Crossing Borders, 103.
2. Shanley, P., Luz, L., Galvão, J., & Cymerys, M. (1996). Translating Dry Data for Forest Communities: Science Offers Incentives for Conservation. Rural Development Forestry Network paper, 7-19.
(iii) Other nuanced analyses of dilemmas and governance mechanisms.
The remaining studies are comprised of case studies that highlight the specific challenges faced by their respective subjects of investigation. These challenges range from disputes over who is eligible to participate in the commons to the distribution of benefits. Most of these studies adopt a descriptive approach, focusing on documenting the challenges and describing the governance mechanisms of the commons. Despite the wide range of cases studied, two networks receive the most attention. They are the Global Forest Information Service, which aims to improve access to forestry information in Africa, and the Network for a European Forest Information System, which provides an overall forest information system architecture in Europe.
Articles in this field:
1. Hamunen, K., Virkkula, O., Hujala, T., Hiedanpää, J., & Kurttila, M. (2015). Enhancing Informal Interaction and Knowledge Co-construction Among Forest Owners.
2. Sraku-Lartey, M. (2006). Enhancing Access to Forestry Information in Africa to Ensure Sustainable Forest Management. Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship, 47, 1-4.
3. Baycheva-Merger, T., Sotirov, M., Holmgren, S., & Selter, A. (2018). Institutional and Actor-Oriented Factors Constraining Expert-based Forest Information Exchange in Europe: A Policy Analysis from an Actor-centred Institutionalist Approach. Forests, 9(3), 129.
4. Baycheva-Merger, T., & Sotirov, M. (2020). The Politics of An EU Forest Information System: Unpacking Distributive Conflicts Associated With the Use of Forest Information. Forest Policy and Economics, 112, 102110.
5. Kalliola, R., Toivonen, T., Miyakawa, V., & Mavila, M. (2008). Open Access to Information Bridges Science and Development in Amazonia: Lessons of the SIAMAZONIA Service. Environmental Research Letters, 3(3), 034004.
6. Roopsind, A., Sist, P., Peña-Claros, M., Thomas, R., & Putz, F. E. (2014). Beyond Equitable Data Sharing to Improve Tropical Forest Management. International Forestry Review, 16(4), 497-503.
7. Janse, G. (2005). European Co-operation and Networking in Forest Communication (Vol. 20). Joensuu, Finland: European Forest Institute.
8. Rantala, S., Swallow, B., Paloniemi, R., & Raitanen, E. (2020). Governance of Forests and Governance of Forest Information: Interlinkages in the Age of Open and Digital Data. Forest Policy and Economics, 113, 102123.
9. Schuck, A. (2007). Towards a European forest information system. Brill.
10. Noailly, J., & Ryfisch, D. (2015). Multinational Firms and the Internationalization of Green R&D: A Review of the Evidence and Policy Implications. Energy Policy, 83, 218-228.
II. Large-scale research collaboration and data sharing
The second topic in the bibliography deals with the open sharing of scientific data among ecologists. The studies in this area explore the perceived benefits and risks of open data sharing, as well as the major obstacles to its promotion. The principal barriers are mainly comprised of three categories: those arising from the specific characteristics of ecology as a discipline (such as difficulties in arranging regional- to continental-scale research, variation in research methodologies, and heterogeneity of subject of study), technological barriers (such as lacking effective cyberinfrastructure and human expertise for data sharing), and cultural barriers rooted in the “lone-wolf” culture of individually driven research.
For instance, Michener’s study offers a comprehensive account of the history of ecological data sharing and how advancements in cyberinfrastructure and changes in societal attitudes have facilitated greater data-sharing practices. Peters et al. present a thorough analysis of the existing ecology research networks that facilitate data sharing. Aubin et al.’s study contrasts top-down and bottom-up approaches to research network design, highlighting the advantages of bottom-up collaboration.
There are also studies focusing on the information equity perspective. For example, Roopsind et al. discuss how the lack of data science capacities affects the incentives to participate in data sharing by actors from tropical countries.
Articles in this field:
1. Roopsind, A., Sist, P., Peña-Claros, M., Thomas, R., & Putz, F. E. (2014). Beyond Equitable Data Sharing to Improve Tropical Forest Management. International Forestry Review, 16(4), 497-503.
2. Rantala, S., Swallow, B., Paloniemi, R., & Raitanen, E. (2020). Governance of Forests and Governance of Forest Information: Interlinkages in the Age of Open and Digital Data. Forest Policy and Economics, 113, 102123.
3. Michener, W. K. (2015). Ecological Data Sharing. Ecological informatics, 29, 33-44.
4. Peters, D. P., Loescher, H. W., SanClements, M. D., & Havstad, K. M. (2014). Taking The Pulse Of A Continent: Expanding Site‐Based Research Infrastructure For Regional‐To Continental‐Scale Ecology. Ecosphere, 5(3), 1-23.
5. Aubin, I., Cardou, F., Boisvert‐Marsh, L., Garnier, E., Strukelj, M., & Munson, A. D. (2020). Managing Data Locally To Answer Questions Globally: The Role Of Collaborative Science In Ecology. Journal of Vegetation Science, 31(3), 509-517.
III. Open innovation
The third topic encompasses studies on open innovation, with a focus on two forms of open innovation. One approach to open innovation is based on Chesbrough’s theory, which posits that innovation can take place not only within the boundaries of the firm, but also from ideas coming from inside and outside the company. The studies included in this bibliography use case studies to explore the following:
(i) Why open eco-innovation is attractive?
The majority of the studies in this category emphasize that eco-innovation demands a wide range of knowledge that is unlikely to be possessed by a single firm. Therefore, a scheme of open innovation is appealing to firms that share a common context and objective to advance industrial sustainability.
(ii) Inbound and outbound practices in open eco-innovation.
The studies also explore the specific inbound and outbound practices and how they relate to eco-innovation. For instance, Leitão et al. examined open eco-innovation practices in six countries and found that, in general, both inbound and outbound practices have a positive correlation with eco-innovation performance, although this correlation may differ depending on the specific practices being analyzed.
(iii) Challenges to open eco-innovation and key variables to succeed.
The literature included in the bibliography addresses the challenges associated with open eco-innovation from multiple perspectives. Firstly, looking at the breadth and depth of collaboration, studies such as González-Moreno et al.’s identify the limitations of broadening collaboration and the significance of developing deep, frequent and intense relationships. Secondly, some studies divide open innovation into micro-, meso-, and macro-level, and explore value creation and value capture at each level. Garcia et al. discovered that one major barrier to open-innovation is that value is generated at the micro (individual firm) and meso (collaboration network) levels, but it is captured at the macro (social) level.
Articles in this field:
1. Garcia, R., Wigger, K., & Hermann, R. R. (2019). Challenges of Creating and Capturing Value in Open Eco-innovation: Evidence From the Maritime Industry in Denmark. Journal of Cleaner Production, 220, 642-654.
2. Leitão, J., Pereira, D., & Brito, S. D. (2020). Inbound and Outbound Practices of Open Innovation and Eco-innovation: Contrasting Bioeconomy and Non-bioeconomy Firms. Journal of Open Innovation: Technology, Market, and Complexity, 6(4), 145.
3. Ghisetti, C., Marzucchi, A., & Montresor, S. (2015). The Open Eco-innovation Mode. An Empirical Investigation of Eleven European Countries. Research Policy, 44(5), 1080-1093.
4. Cainelli, G., De Marchi, V., & Grandinetti, R. (2015). Does the Development of Environmental Innovation Require Different Resources? Evidence from Spanish Manufacturing Firms. Journal of Cleaner Production, 94, 211-220.
5. De Marchi, V. (2012). Environmental Innovation and R&D Cooperation: Empirical Evidence from Spanish Manufacturing Firms. Research policy, 41(3), 614-623.
6. Chistov, V., Aramburu, N., & Carrillo-Hermosilla, J. (2021). Open Eco-innovation: A Bibliometric Review of Emerging Research. Journal of cleaner production, 311, 127627.
7. González-Moreno, Á., Triguero, Á., & Sáez-Martínez, F. J. (2019). Many or Trusted Partners for co-innovation? The Influence of Breadth and Depth of Firms’ Knowledge Network in the Food Sector. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 147, 51-62.
8. Melander, L., & Pazirandeh, A. (2019). Collaboration Beyond the Supply Network for Green Innovation: Insight From 11 Cases. Supply Chain Management: An International Journal.
9. Spena, T. R., & Di Paola, N. (2020). Moving Beyond the Tensions in Open Environmental Innovation Towards a Holistic Perspective. Business Strategy and the Environment, 29(5), 1961-1974.
10. Roh, T., Lee, K., & Yang, J. Y. (2021). How Do Intellectual Property Rights And Government Support Drive A Firm’s Green Innovation? The Mediating Role Of Open Innovation. Journal of Cleaner Production, 317, 128422.
11. Civelek, F., Kulkarni, R., Fritz, K. P., Meyer, T., Troulos, C., Guenther, T., & Zimmermann, A. (2020). Open-Eco-Innovation for SMEs with Pan-European Key Enabling Technology Centres. Clean Technologies, 2(4), 422-439.
12. Dall-Orsoletta, A., Romero, F., & Ferreira, P. (2022). Open And Collaborative Innovation For The Energy Transition: An Exploratory Study. Technology in Society, 69, 101955.
The other form of open innovation is user innovation. It is based on Von Hippel’s theory that a higher level of user participation can contribute to the development and dissemination of technology. The literature in this field focuses on specific user innovation communities and analyzes the key conditions for successful user innovation. An illustrative case study is provided by Ornetzeder and Rohracher, where they investigated several user innovation communities in the field of renewable energy technologies. They discovered that many users were involved in cooperative production or planning processes where they modify and improve existing products and technology. The success of user innovation depends on various factors, including the technical characteristics of the product or technology, the lifecycle of the product, the specific motivation of users, and the specific social-cultural background of the user innovation community. Their study also shows that user innovation can bring positive effects to technical innovation, dissemination of technology, and social embedding of unconventional sustainable technology.
Articles in this field:
1. Ornetzeder, M., & Rohracher, H. (2006). User-Led Innovations And Participation Processes: Lessons From Sustainable Energy Technologies. Energy policy, 34(2), 138-150.
2. Hyysalo, S., Juntunen, J. K., & Freeman, S. (2013). User Innovation In Sustainable Home Energy Technologies. Energy Policy, 55, 490-500.
3. Dall-Orsoletta, A., Romero, F., & Ferreira, P. (2022). Open And Collaborative Innovation For The Energy Transition: An Exploratory Study. Technology in Society, 69, 101955.
IV. Citizen science
The fourth topic is citizen science, mainly in the form of citizens’ participation in environmental monitoring. The literature reveals the main problems with citizen science through case studies and provides potential solutions to these problems. The central difficulties that have been identified include concerns surrounding the quality of information collected, the rate of participation, and the distribution of benefits.
For instance, Rambonnet et al. conducted interviews with participants in ten citizen science projects on plastics in order to investigate crucial factors that impact the quality of citizen science. Their findings indicate that it is important to specify the goals of the project and that expertise in communication and data science is needed. Furthermore, simple protocols, quality control, and engagement with volunteers and the public are key elements for successful projects. Cuthill compared three cases in the field of coral and fish monitoring, highlighting the significance of considering participant motivations, skills and knowledge in the design of citizen science programmes.
Articles in this field:
1. Gouveia, C., Fonseca, A., Câmara, A., & Ferreira, F. (2004). Promoting The Use Of Environmental Data Collected By Concerned Citizens Through Information And Communication Technologies. Journal of environmental management, 71(2), 135-154.
2. Liu, H. Y., Kobernus, M., Broday, D., & Bartonova, A. (2014). A Conceptual Approach To A Citizens’ Observatory–Supporting Community-Based Environmental Governance. Environmental Health, 13(1), 1-13.
3. Cuthill, M. (2000). An Interpretive Approach To Developing Volunteer-Based Coastal Monitoring Programmes. Local Environment, 5(2), 127-137.
4. Mackechnie, C., Maskell, L., Norton, L., & Roy, D. (2011). The Role Of ‘Big Society’in Monitoring The State Of The Natural Environment. Journal of Environmental monitoring, 13(10), 2687-2691.
5. Bordogna, G., Carrara, P., Criscuolo, L., Pepe, M., & Rampini, A. (2016). On Predicting And Improving The Quality Of Volunteer Geographic Information Projects. International Journal of Digital Earth, 9(2), 134-155.
6. Royo, S., & Yetano, A. (2015). “Crowdsourcing” As A Tool For E-Participation: Two Experiences Regarding CO2 Emissions At Municipal Level. Electronic Commerce Research, 15(3), 323-348.
7. Sheppard, S. A., & Terveen, L. (2011, October). Quality Is A Verb: The Operationalization Of Data Quality In A Citizen Science Community. In Proceedings of the 7th International Symposium on wikis and open Collaboration (pp. 29-38).
8. Blaney, R. J. P., Jones, G., Philippe, A., & Pocock, M. (2016). Citizen Science And Environmental Monitoring: Towards A Methodology For Evaluating Opportunities, Costs And Benefits. Final Report on behalf of UKEOF.
9. Pateman, R. M., Dyke, A., & West, S. E. (2021). The Diversity Of Participants In Environmental Citizen Science. Citizen Science: Theory and Practice.
10. Pocock, M. J., Tweddle, J. C., Savage, J., Robinson, L. D., & Roy, H. E. (2017). The Diversity And Evolution Of Ecological And Environmental Citizen Science. PloS one, 12(4), e0172579.
11. Geoghegan, H., Dyke, A., Pateman, R., West, S., & Everett, G. (2016). Understanding Motivations For Citizen Science. Final report on behalf of UKEOF, University of Reading, Stockholm Environment Institute (University of York) and University of the West of England.
12. Hobbs, S. J., & White, P. C. (2012). Motivations And Barriers In Relation To Community Participation In Biodiversity Recording. Journal for Nature Conservation, 20(6), 364-373.
13. Rambonnet, L., Vink, S. C., Land-Zandstra, A. M., & Bosker, T. (2019). Making Citizen Science Count: Best Practices And Challenges Of Citizen Science Projects On Plastics In Aquatic Environments. Marine pollution bulletin, 145, 271-277.
V. Patent commons
The final topic is patent commons, with a particular emphasis on the Eco-Patent Commons (“Eco-PC”) initiative. Eco-PC was launched in 2008 by several tech companies, including IBM and Nokia, and eventually terminated in 2016. The studies in the bibliography analyze Eco-PC as a case of a failed patent commons in order to understand the reasons for its failure and offer recommendations for future environmental patent commons initiatives.
Contreras et al. provided a thorough examination of the structural and organizational issues with the Eco-PC that led to its failure. They discovered that the patents contributed to the Eco-PC were, on average, less cited than comparable patents, and that the contribution of these patents to the Eco-PC did not increase their rates of citation. This can be attributed to the lack of consultation with the demand side in the construction of the patent commons and the absence of tracking of patent utilization. The lack of knowledge about how or if the patents were being used resulted in waning incentives for companies to participate. Furthermore, there was inadequate coordination among Eco-PC contributors. Members faced significant costs of internal patent analysis to determine which patents were not in line with corporate goals and hence could be pledged to the commons.
Articles in this field:
1. Hall, B. H., & Helmers, C. (2013). Innovation And Diffusion Of Clean/Green Technology: Can Patent Commons Help?. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 66(1), 33-51.
2. Contreras, J. L., Hall, B. H., & Helmers, C. (2019). Pledging Patents For The Public Good: Rise And Fall Of The Eco-Patent Commons. Hous. L. Rev., 57, 61.
3. Boynton, A. (2010). Eco-Patent Commons: A Donation Approach Encouraging Innovation Within The Patent System. Wm. & Mary Envtl. L. & Pol’y Rev., 35, 659.
4. Greenleaf, K., & Byrne, M. P. (2011). Triumph of the Eco-Patent Commons. Landslide, 4, 43.
5. Contreras, J. L., Hall, B. H., & Helmers, C. (2018). Green Technology Diffusion: A Post-Mortem Analysis Of The Eco-Patent Commons (No. w25271). National Bureau of Economic Research.