Contemporary literature dealing with the governance of the exploitation of common-pool natural resources was initiated by Elinor Ostrom in 1990, and has been growing fast ever since. On the contrary, within the same research stream, the study of the presence and economic role of common resources in entrepreneurial-organizational is, to date, under-researched. This work endeavours some attempt to fill this gap by: first, spelling out a new-institutionalist framework for the analysis of the accumulation and governance of common capital resources within organizational boundaries; second, by considering co-operative enterprises as the organizational form that, on the basis of historical record, and of behavioural and institutional characteristics, demonstrated to be the most compatible with a substantial role for common and non-divided asset-ownership and with its governance thereof. The economic forces influencing the optimal level of self-financed common capital resources in co-operatives are enquired. Also their governance is brought under the spotlight, evidencing: (i) the constraints that need to be fulfilled, and the potential benefits arising out of their presence; (ii) the compatibility and mutual adaptability between democratic governance in co-operatives and the governance of non-divided assets.
Key words: co-operative enterprises; indivisible reserves; common resources; rivalry; non-excludability; capital accumulation; governance