The context in which many self-governed commons systems operate will likely be significantly altered as globalization processes play out over the next few decades. Such dramatic changes will induce some systems to fail and subsequently to be transformed, rather than merely adapt. Despite this possibility, research on globalization-induced transformations of social-ecological systems (SESs) is still underdeveloped. We seek to help fill this gap by exploring some patterns of transformation in SESs and the question of what factors help explain the persistence of cooperation in the use of common-pool resources through transformative change. Through the analysis of 89 forest commons in South Korea that experienced such transformations, we found that there are two broad types of transformation, cooperative and noncooperative. We also found that two system-level properties, transaction costs associated group size and network diversity, may affect the direction of transformation. SESs with smaller group sizes and higher network diversity may better organize cooperative transformations when the existing system becomes untenable.