A system and method for controlling access to shared resources in a distributed computer system. Access to shared resources is controlled by a local authorization token manager. Only computer processes holding authorization tokens for the requested operation may perform that operation. Each requested operation checks for the proper token. If the token is not held by the process, it is requested. The local token manager resolves token conflicts before granting tokens. A token manager of a distributed file system export protocol also is able to request authorization tokens from the local token manager. The export protocol token manager controls authorization tokens for that particular distributed file system protocol. Multiple different export protocols may request tokens from the local token manager. The shared resources may therefore be shared by multiple different export protocols without conflict. Local processes and processes requesting shared resource operations through an export protocol that does not itself manage tokens are granted tokens through the operation token request mechanism. This mechanism enables local processes to use shared resources without the performance penalty of having to request through a local distributed client process.