Much of the co-management literature is dedicated to determining the conditions that allow for successful management of natural resources. However, what constitutes "success" is often left undefined. In practice, though, it is clear that different actors have different ways of conceptualizing success. This paper examines how different actors define success in the context of a common property system in southwestern France that is transitioning to a co-management system. Different definitions of success employed by different stakeholders in the process stemmed from their different objectives for the project, their differential experiences of the implementation process, relationships between Basque farmers and the French state and the European Union, senses of identity, and the effects of scale. I argue that in order to facilitate more informed project design and evaluation, we need to be clear in our writings about how success is defined, whose definition we are using, and how that definition is contested and negotiated. I further argue that an ethnographic approach is a useful and important tool to add to co-management evaluation.

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