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Resources on Elinor Ostrom

[Note: This is a work in progress]

Elinor Ostrom is the guru of CPR regimes; anyone interested should look into her fascinating and highly-regarded work, particularly
her seminal and extensively researched Governing the Commons (1990). Here is a review.

A profile of Ostrom, who is a member of the National Academies of Science and and Editor of its Proceedings, is here:

Her work can be found here: http://scholar.google.co.jp/scholar?q=Ostrom,+Elinor&hl=en&btnG=Search

here: http://de.scientificcommons.org/elinor_ostrom

and here: http://dlc.dlib.indiana.edu/dlc/browse?value=Ostrom%2C+Elinor&type=author

[She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society,
and a recipient of a number of prestigious awards. Her other books include Rules, Games, and Common-Pool Resources (1994); The Commons in the New Millennium: Challenges and Adaptations (2003); The Samaritan’s Dilemma: The Political Economy of Development Aid (2005); Understanding Institutional Diversity (2005); and Understanding Knowledge as a Commons: From Theory to Practice (2007).]

Here is one link to get readers started:

Elinor Ostrom et al.,
Revisiting the Commons: Local Lessons, Global Challenges, Science 9
April 1999: http://conservationcommons.org/media/document/docu-wyycyz.pdf

Here is one general bibliography on commons research: http://www.indiana.edu/~workshop/wsl/tragedy.htm

1.  Here are the statements from the 2009 Nobel Prize committee:

a.  From the press release:

Elinor Ostrom has demonstrated how common property can be successfully managed by user associations. Oliver Williamson has
developed a theory where business firms serve as structures for
conflict resolution. Over the last three decades these seminal
contributions have advanced economic governance research from the
fringe to the forefront of scientific attention.

Economic transactions take place not
only in markets, but also within firms, associations, households, and
agencies. Whereas economic theory has comprehensively illuminated the
virtues and limitations of markets, it has traditionally paid less
attention to other institutional arrangements. The research of Elinor
Ostrom and Oliver Williamson demonstrates that economic analysis can
shed light on most forms of social organization.

Elinor Ostrom has challenged
the conventional wisdom that common property is poorly managed and
should be either regulated by central authorities or privatized.

Based on numerous studies of user-managed fish stocks, pastures, woods,
lakes, and groundwater basins, Ostrom concludes that the outcomes are,
more often than not, better than predicted by standard theories. She
observes that resource users frequently develop sophisticated
mechanisms for decision-making and rule enforcement to handle conflicts
of interest, and she characterizes the rules that promote successful

b.  The background explanation is useful and contains a pointed criticism of many centrally-directed approaches to common pool resources (emphasis added):

If we want to halt the degradation of our natural environment and prevent a repetition of the many collapses
of natural-resource stocks experienced in the past, we should learn
from the successes and failures of common-property regimes. Ostrom’s
work teaches us novel lessons about the deep mechanisms that sustain
cooperation in human societies.

It has frequently been suggested that common ownership entails excessive resource utilization, and that it is
advisable to reduce utilization either by imposing government
regulations, such as taxes or quotas, or by privatizing the resource.
theoretical argument is simple: each user weighs private benefits
against private costs, thereby neglecting the negative impact on others.

However, based on numerous empirical studies of natural-resource management, Elinor Ostrom has concluded that common
property is often surprisingly well managed. Thus, the standard
theoretical argument against common property is overly simplistic.
It neglects the fact that users themselves can both create and enforce rules that mitigate overexploitation.
The standard argument also neglects the practical difficulties associated with privatization and government regulation. …

There are many …. examples which indicate that user-management of local resources has been more
successful than management by outsiders. …

[T]he main lesson is that common
property is often managed on the basis of rules and procedures that
have evolved over long periods of time.
As a result they are more
adequate and subtle than outsiders – both politicians and social
scientists – have tended to realize. Beyond showing that
self-governance can be feasible and successful, Ostrom also elucidates
the key features of successful governance. One instance is that active
participation of users in creating and enforcing rules appears to be
essential. Rules that are imposed from the outside or unilaterally
dictated by powerful insiders have less legitimacy and are more likely
to be violated. Likewise, monitoring and enforcement work better when
conducted by insiders than by outsiders. These principles are in stark
contrast to the common view that monitoring and sanctioning are the
responsibility of the state and should be conducted by public employees.

2.   Miscellaneous recent materials

On December 16, Spiegel Online ran the following interview with Elinor Ostrom

NPR’s Planet Money: Podcast: Elinor Ostrom Checks In (October 23, 2009)

Lecture at Cornell University: “Collective Action and the Commons: What Have We Learned?” (September 17, 2009)

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3.  These following earlier posts:

Elinor Ostrom? Austrians praise the Nobel laureate’s work on how human communities successfully manage resource conflicts

by TokyoTom

Elinor Ostrom awarded the Nobel prize in economics? Who? no doubt some
of you are wondering. Well, sharp-eyed readers will have noted that I
have referred to her any number of times (which I will reprise later,
as this post has gotten too lengthy). I excerpt below some of the
praise Elinor Ostrom has…

sum games: Get yer Elinor Ostrom here! A reprise of posts on rolling up
our sleeves to address real problems that “markets” (& govt.) now

by TokyoTom

I excerpt below, in chronological order, portions of my prior posts
here that refer to Elinor Ostrom (the political scientist who recently
was awarded the Nobel prize in economics) and are indebted to her
thinking. Perhaps items 3 and 10 are most accessible for readers in a
hurry to find links to her…

Elinor Ostrom: Another Nobel Laureate jumps the climate shark (Proceed at Own Risk)

by TokyoTom

On December 16, Spiegel Online ran the following interview with Elinor
Ostrom , whose 2009 Nobel prize in economics (shared with Oliver
Williamson ), was widely applauded by Austrian economists (and whose
work I have referred to any number of time previously ). Der Spiegel
asked some good questions,…

Tragedy of the panicked enviro III: learning from Elinor Ostrom about cooperative action

by TokyoTom

This is the second follow-up to my post ” Grist and the tragedy of the
panicked enviro “, where I try to clarify the institutional frameworks
for understanding and addressing resource problems, in response to
confusion in comments by others. T Worstall Posted 5:27 pm 27 Aug 2009
TokyoTom makes…

John Quiggin plays Pin-the-tail-on-the-Donkey with “Libertarians and delusionism”

by TokyoTom

John Quiggin , a left-leaning Australian economist and professor at the
University of Queensland, has noted my recent post on the penchant for
bloggers and readers at the Mises Blog to attack climate science – are
” almost universally committed to delusional views on climate science
“, as he…

Not Climate Change Welfare, But Capitalism and Free Markets

by TokyoTom

… is what poor countries need. So corrrectly argues Keith Lockitch of
the Ayn Rand Institute , in a new article that responds to the
agreement, by the delegates of industrialized nations at the December
climate change conference in Bali, to activate an “adaptation fund”
that would help…

Libertarians to lefty-enviros: without community-based property rights, sustainable fisheries are impossible

by TokyoTom

Readers from RealClimate , thanks for your visit. Here`s my comment
with embedded links: #188 / 245: Neal & Jim, thanks for the
references to the successful experiments in Iceland, NZ and the Alaskan
pollock fishery to replace the tragedy of the government commons with
property rights approaches…

Ron Bailey of Reason congratulates Al Gore

by TokyoTom

[updated] A great new post by libertarian Ron Bailey of Reason here:
Congratulations to Al Gore But be wary of the man’s proposed solutions
for global warming. Ronald Bailey | October 12, 2007
http://www.reason.com/news/show/122960.html 1. Here are some excerpts
(emphasis added), followed by a copy…

Using the State to solve common resource problems?

by TokyoTom

How exactly do you transfer commons into private ownership in a fair
way, even for easily divided up stuff like land? That’s the trillion
dollar question that someone asked me on a recent thread (
http://blog.mises.org/archives/007152.asp#comments ) regarding my
suggestion that better definition…

Jon Bostwick agrees on another post that “Man is clever but not wise
(“homo sapiens” is a misnomer)”, but further comments (emphasis added):
“True. But humanity is wise. Men create cultures, economies and law.
“Man’s flaw is that he is over confident of his own intelligence…
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