Garrett Hardin's essay “The Tragedy of the Commons” has for almost three decades stimulated research on common property regimes. This report provides an overview of this research and reviews a selection of empirical and theoretical contributions to the “commons” debate. Despite the hectic research activity, the report is critical of the tendency to reproduce well-worn arguments instead of questioning them. In order to progress beyond a rebuttal of Hardin, the report calls for an inter-disciplinary approach to the study of common property regimes and advocates an analytical focus on local institutions. In particular, the report discusses those circumstances under which local institutions represent an alternative to state management of renewable natural resources.