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

  • Orozco-Quintero A
  • Davidson-Hunt I
Citations of this article
Mendeley users who have this article in their library.


What can we learn from an engagement between community- based and indigenous enterprise, and commons literatures? That is what we set out to consider in this paper. CommonsCommons scholarship has tended to focus on the administration and use of commons by individuals and households and less so on collective enterprises that extract, transform and market what they harvest from the commons. In this paper, we consider Nuevo San Juan, a Mexican case that is well known in the community forestry and commons literature. In San Juan, indigenous community members who hold the rights for the commons are also the members of the enterprise that transforms and markets goods from the commons. We argue that such a strategy is one way to confront internal and external pressures on a commons. We draw 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. 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, and thereby identify factors that increase chances of success for community enterprises. We found that by starting from the community-based and indigenous enterprise literature and using that literature to engage with thinking on commons, it was possible to consider the enterprise from the perspective of a regulatory framework rather than from 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. We conclude by noting that 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




Orozco-Quintero, A., & Davidson-Hunt, I. (2009). Community-based enterprises and the commons: The case of San Juan Nuevo Parangaricutiro, Mexico. International Journal of the Commons, 4(1), 8.

Register to see more suggestions

Mendeley helps you to discover research relevant for your work.

Already have an account?

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free