Summary. â€” A critique of property theory points to the limitations of policies that seek to specify property rights, to strengthen or to reestablish common property institutions. Drawing on property theory and its critique, this paper presents a detailed case study of two waves of reform that attempted to reorganize property relations in Mongolia. Despite their analytical sophistication, property theories face particular challenges when translated into policy prescriptions. Reforms need to build on a broader understanding of the practices and mechanisms involved in governing resources, thereby providing a means to improve resource management. 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.