Research insights on socio-economic and organizational developments in social forestry enterprises in Michoacán, Mexico. What are the contributions of community-based natural resource management systems to local development and environmental conservation?


Community-based enterprises and the commons: The case of San Juan Nuevo Parangaricutiro, Mexico


This article presents research on a well-known case in the community forestry and
commons literature from Mexico. It provides an interesting case as the indigenous members
that hold the rights for the commons are also the members of the enterprise that transforms
and markets goods from the commons. We argue that the impetus for such a strategy is one
way to confront internal and external

Drawing upon the transcripts of 40 interviews undertaken during 2006 which are analyzed
using a framework developed from the social community-based and indigenous enterprise
literature, we aim to understand factors that increase chances of success in community-
based enterprises. Our goal was to utilize this framework to analyze the San Juan Forest
Enterprise and understand its emergence and formation as a long-standing community-
based enterprise that intersects with a commons.

We found that by starting from the enterprise literature it was possible to consider the
enterprise from the perspective of a regulatory framework rather than the poles of
dependency and modernization theories in which much commons work has been based.
Enterprise and commons intersect when both are guided by core cultural values and the
enterprise can become a new site for the creation of social and cultural cohesion. We also
found that there were a number of necessary conditions for commons-based community-
enterprises to retain internal and external legitimacy, namely: (1) leadership representative of
the broad social mission rooted in the customary institutions, values and norms of the
community; (2) accountability of enterprise leaders to the memberships they represent; and
(3) a close adherence to the political goals of the community as a whole.


In the Americas there is a steady increase in the lands and waters being managed by
Indigenous Peoples. An engagement between commons and community-based enterprise
scholars could provide needed support for the emergence of community-based enterprises
that sustainably manage commons and provide the means to relieve systemic poverty of
indigenous communities.

The full text journal article is available at International Journal of the Commons

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Role of linkages and diversity of partnerships in a Mexican community- based forest enterprise



This paper present research identifying and describing the pervasiveness and importance
of various types of institutional and organization interactions across multiple levels for
the management of a community forest enterprise. In addition, the paper brings a new
approach to analyze how indigenous and other rural communities are “opting in” to the
global economy through a diversity of partnerships and a complexity of interactions
across organizational levels

The paper analyzes a long-standing case in Michoacán, Mexico, the San Juan Nuevo
(SJN) enterprise, a community-based system with a multiplicity of actors, objectives, and
Information was collected through 100 semi-structured interviews. By presenting and
discussing the main community-based development strategy within the overall socio-
political context and achievements of the case, we attempt to understand the complexity
of cross-scale institutional and organizational linkages and their role in sustainable
resource management.

SJN enterprise had linkages with some 22 major partners over the years across four levels
of organization: local, state, federal, and international. Cross-scale partnerships were not
merely important, but essential for the overall success of the enterprise in the face of
uncertainty over resource ownership and lack of legal jurisdiction. These diverse
partnerships and interactions enabled robust institutional structures, making possible the
development of linkages to help conserve the resource.
Concisely, there is the need to recognize the multiple roles of partnerships, from business
networking to research and training, which can help to unpack different kinds of capacity
building. Actors and organizations at various levels can influence management practices
in diverse ways and help to find a balance between local livelihoods and larger
conservation needs.

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