Elinor Ostrom

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Won a Nobel Prize (in economics) for groundbreaking work in institutional analysis of the real-world governance of commons. Not a libertarian nor a Hayekian.


A General Framework for Analyzing Sustainability of Social-Ecological Systems [More...]
Beyond Markets and States: Polycentric Governance of Complex Economic Systems [More...]
Elinor Ostrom smacks down the libertaran false dichotomy of state versus market in her Nobel Prize lecture. She discusses how public/private goods, market/government and fully rational individuals fail for analyzing many real-world problems, and presents her Institutional Analysis and Development framework.
Common and Private Concerns [More...]
A seminal paper explaining models in terms of types of resources, property, and management regimes. Explains the problem with the Tragedy Of The Commons model. "The goal is to clarify concepts and raise issues that may contribute to the further development of theory concerning property rights and the performance of natural resource systems."
Efficiency, Sustainability, and Access Under Alternative Property-Rights Regimes [More...]
"This paper will focus primarily on an analysis of common property since so many serious confusions exist in regard to this form of property and its effects on efficiency, sustainability and access."
Elinor Ostrom on the Commons [More...]
How real-world solutions to the "tragedy of the commons" work without privatization. An easy, brief introduction.
Elinor Ostrom, The Commons and Anti-Capitalism [More...]
Elinor Ostrom and her institutional approach were neither socialist, anti-state, left, conservative, anarchist, nor free-market. She was an egalitarian institutionalist who studied many forms of common pool resource management and non-market economics, with emphasis on when collective communal ownership was possible.
Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action (book, online)
Elinor Ostrom's book on non-private, non-government control of resources which earned her a Nobel Prize in Economics.
Local Commons (13 links)
Elinor Ostrom's real-world observed solutions to regulating commons without ownership. These require government protection of community rights to control the commons. This is not libertarian: no private property, and two levels of government.
Ostrom’s Law: Property rights in the commons [More...]
"Ostrom's Law: A resource arrangement that works in practice can work in theory. Ostrom's scholarship challenges the conventional wisdom by examining how people interact over resources on the ground - an approach that enables her to identify recurring institutional features associated with long-term success."
Property in Land and Other Resources (book)
Revisiting the Commons: Local Lessons, Global Challenges [More...]
"This article discusses new insights about such problems and the conditions most likely to favor sustainable uses of common-pool resources. Some of the most difficult challenges concern the management of large-scale resources that depend on international cooperation, such as fresh water in international basins or large marine ecosystems."
The Ostrom Nobel [More...]
"Her landmark book, Governing the Commons, provides an empirical rejoinder to the pessimism of Garret Hardin and others about the tragedy of the commons -- it documents how people can and do solve these problems in e.g the management of water resources, forestry, pasturage and fishing rights."


Lin [Elinor Ostrom] is emphatically clear on a number of key points:
  1. Self interested behaviour in perfect markets can be highly destructive.
  2. Appropriate norms and rules will not rely on pure self interest, but instead build on the capacity of (many) actors for conditional cooperation and reciprocity.
  3. Norms rely on collectively mandated sanctioning mechanisms if they are to work properly.
These are not, as I understand Hayek, Hayekian claims.
Henry Farrell, "The Ostrom Nobel"