Elinor Ostrom's research while affiliated with Indiana University East and other places

Publications (363)

Article
"Grandfathering" grants preferential treatment to existing resource users over new entrants based on prior use. Grandfathering is based on the concept of first-in-Time or prior appropriation and has been applied to a broad range of environmental and resource issues. We synthesize legal, economic, and political science perspectives and find that gra...
Conference Paper
The (experimental) research on community management of natural resources focuses on social dilemma situations between individuals. However, in most real-life situations natural resources are not only shared between individuals living in a community, but also between individuals belonging to different subgroups within the same community. For instanc...
Article
Editor’s Introduction Originally published in Volume 42, Number 1, Spring 1998, pages 3-17. Eleven years before she was recognized with the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, Elinor Ostrom (1933-2012) published this paper in The American Economist. Originally trained in political science, Professor Ostrom’s life work centered on understandi...
Chapter
The literature on global climate change has largely ignored the small but positive steps that many public and private actors are taking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A global policy is frequently posited as the only strategy needed. It is important to balance the major attention on global solutions as the only strategy for coping with climate...
Book
Full-text available
El presente libro resultará de interés tanto para profesores y estudiantes universitarios como para todas aquellas personas preocupadas por el funcionamiento de nuestras democracias y las decisiones económicas que nuestros gobiernos toman, sus determinantes, sus reglas, los diversos actores participantes, sus resultados… Preocupación que se ha vist...
Article
Full-text available
"In many fields, policymakers seem to have an increasing preference for simple, large, non- redundant systems of analysis and governance. To address this question, we examine several arenas in which scholars have studied the costs and benefits of different levels of redundancy, including: ecological resiliency, computer design, aircraft design, gen...
Chapter
A comprehensive primer to the major theoretical frameworks used in policy process research written by leading public policy scholars.
Article
Full-text available
The south Indian city of Bangalore provides a challenging yet representative context within which to examine issues of governance of urban social-ecological commons. The city was once famous for its numerous large water bodies, which have witnessed tremendous encroachment and pollution in recent years. These water bodies, called tanks or lakes, wer...
Article
Full-text available
The social-ecological system (SES) framework investigated in this special issue enables researchers from diverse disciplinary backgrounds working on different resource sectors in disparate geographic areas, biophysical conditions, and temporal domains to share a common vocabulary for the construction and testing of alternative theories and models t...
Article
The ability of groups to self-govern their common pool resources is well documented (Ostrom, 1990). Whether common pool resources are fish stocks or freshwater or forest products, success of self-governance relates to the ability of appropriators to develop trust relationships, monitor and enforce agreements, and communicate among each other.
Chapter
Full-text available
Successful development aid generates the appropriate incentives so that the time, skill, knowledge, and effort of multiple individuals create jointly valued outcomes. These incentives come from the institutions—the rules of the games of life and productive coexistence— that development aid helps to create or modify. As a society forms more robust n...
Article
In this paper I will provide an overview of our findings from studying irrigation systems in the field so that readers who are not familiar with our prior research gain at least an initial sense of these findings. I will provide a second short overview —this time of the institutional analysis and development (IAD) framework offering a general metho...
Article
Full-text available
Ostrom proposed the underpinnings of a framework for the systematic study of the governance of complex social–ecological systems. Here we hypothesize that Ostrom's social–ecological system framework can be useful to build a classification system for small-scale benthic fisheries, regarding their governance processes and outcomes. The purpose of thi...
Article
Full text in French freely available here: https://regulation.revues.org/10437 Most powerful analytical tools used in the social sciences are well suited for studying static situations. Static and mechanistic analysis, however, is not adequate to understand the changing world in which we live. In order to adequately address the most pressing social...
Article
Full-text available
Extensive experimental research has been devoted to the study of behaviour in laboratory settings related to public goods, common-pool resources, and other social dilemmas. When subjects are anonymous and not allowed to communicate, they tend not to cooperate. To the surprise of game theorists, however, simply allowing subjects to communicate in a...
Article
Full-text available
Globalization, the process by which local social-ecological systems (SESs) are becoming linked in a global network, presents policy scientists and practitioners with unique and difficult challenges. Although local SESs can be extremely complex, when they become more tightly linked in the global system, complexity increases very rapidly as multi-sca...
Article
This article generalizes a set of core design principles for the efficacy of groups that was originally derived for groups attempting to manage common-pool resources (CPRs) such as irrigation systems, forests, and fisheries. The dominant way of thinking until recently was that commons situations invariably result in the tragedy of overuse, requirin...
Book
Improving Irrigation in Asia is based on a longitudinal study over two decades on innovative intervention for sustained performance of irrigation systems. The work identifies key factors that can help explain the performance of interventions, and explicates lessons for resource management and the management of development assistance. © Elinor Ostro...
Article
Extensive experimental research has been devoted to the study of behaviour related to public goods, common-pool resources and other social dilemmas. In a majority of these studies, it is found that subjects tend to cooperate if they are allowed to communicate and make their own rules of use. In the context of the Forest Rights Act, 2006, a number o...
Article
Cet article etudie les defis rencontres par la gouvernance environnementale sous l’effet combine de la connectivite accrue des systemes d’exploitation des ressources et des interdependances fonctionnelles croissantes des systemes socio-ecologiques. Nous nous pencherons sur l’exemple du Parc indigene du Xingu (PIX) au Bresil et de sa region agro-ind...
Article
Let me first extend my thanks to Michael Szenberg and his colleagues for inviting me to contribute a chapter to this distinguished volume. It has given me an opportunity to rethink some of the foundations of my own work. While many of the economists who have contributed to this volume began their academic journeys in high school or college, mine di...
Article
Social dilemmas characterize decision environments in which individuals' exclusive pursuit of their own material self-interest can produce inefficient allocations. Social dilemmas are most commonly studied in provision games, such as public goods games and trust games, in which the social dilemma can be manifested in foregone opportunities to creat...
Article
Full-text available
Traditional economic models of how to manage environmental problems relating to renewable natural resources, such as fisheries, have tended to recommend either government regulation or privatisation and the explicit definition of property rights.These traditional models ignore the practical reality of natural resource management. Many communities a...
Article
“Grandfathering” grants preferential treatment to existing polluters and resource users over new entrants based on prior use. It typically is justified as a doctrine to appease incumbents when passing costly regulations. It is based on conceptions of first-in-time or prior appropriation. The principle is applied in a very broad range of issues incl...
Article
Full-text available
Human-induced causes of forest change occur at multiple scales. Yet, most governance mechanisms are designed at a single level - whether international, national, regional or local - and do not provide effective solutions for the overarching challenge of forest governance. Efforts to "decentralize" governmental arrangements frequently do not recogni...
Article
Beyond markets and states: polycentric governance of complex economic systems In this article, I recount the intellectual journey that was mine during the last half century. The "Institutional Analysis and Development" (IAD) framework enabled a number of colleagues and me to undertake a series of empirical case studies of common resources managemen...
Article
In past decades, scholars have tended to recommend ‘optimal’ solutions for coping with common-pool resources. Examples exist of both successful and unsuccessful efforts to establish government property, private property, or community property. The absence of any property rights – open access – related to valuable resources is associated with overus...
Article
Guala raises important questions about the misinterpretation of experimental studies that have found that subjects engage in costly punishment. Instead of positing that punishment is the solution for social dilemmas, earlier research posited that when individuals facing a social dilemma agreed on their own rules and used graduated sanctions, they w...
Article
Among Vincent Ostrom's many contributions to the study of public administration, policy, and political science, the concept of polycentricity remains his single most important legacy. This essay locates the origins of this concept in Ostrom's early research on resource management in the Western United States and demonstrates its continuing influenc...
Article
Full-text available
Humanity has emerged as a major force in the operation of the biosphere, with a significant imprint on the Earth System, challenging social–ecological resilience. This new situation calls for a fundamental shift in perspectives, world views, and institutions. Human development and progress must be reconnected to the capacity of the biosphere and es...
Article
Honoring James Buchanan is an honor and a privilege. I review the influence of his work on my own research and that of colleagues associated with the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis. The Calculus of Consent helps to explain the capabilities and limits of citizen self-organization and led to a number of studies in metropolitan areas...
Article
Full-text available
In this paper, we discuss the lessons learned from a project that combined different types of methods to study the interaction of ecological dynamics, experience of resource users, and institutional arrangements. We combined theoretical computational models, laboratory experiments with undergraduate students in the USA, field experiments and role g...
Article
This study reports results from a new series of experiments that examine the robustness of face-to-face communication as a cooperation-facilitating institution in common-pool resource settings. Results are reported from nine experiment sessions, initially designed for pedagogical purposes. The sessions were conducted between 1998 and 2007 as part o...
Article
Die Klimaproblematik ist sehr komplex und auf der internationalen politischen Agenda immer noch relativ neu. Daher ist es nicht sinnvoll, auf den Abschluss eines globalen Abkommens zu warten. Es wäre besser, einen mehrstufigen Lösungsansatz zu verfolgen, der auf der lokalen Ebene ansetzt, Vorteile klimapolitischer Anstrengungen auf mehreren Ebenen...
Article
Full-text available
Ecologists and practitioners have conventionally used forest plots or transects for monitoring changes in attributes of forest condition over time. However, given the difficulty in collecting such data, conservation practitioners frequently rely on the judgment of foresters and forest users for evaluating changes. These methods are rarely compared....
Article
This article provides an overview of the structure and evolution of the Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) framework and a short introduction to its use by scholars to analyze a diversity of puzzles. It then addresses the relationship of IAD to a more complex framework for the analysis of social-ecological systems and concludes with a sho...
Article
It is instructive to read the article that Katharine Coman published in the first issue of the American Economic Review to gain insight into the problems of collective action related to irrigation in the American West. One gains further understanding of the problems Coman identifies by using a social-ecological system (Ostrom 2007, 2009) to organiz...
Article
Full-text available
Much experimental research has been conducted in laboratory settings on human behavior related to public goods, common-pool resources, and other social dilemmas. These studies have shown that when subjects are anonymous and not allowed to communicate, they tend not to cooperate. However, to the surprise of game theorists, simply allowing subjects t...
Chapter
Locke, Montesquieu, Hume, Smith, Kant, and the American federalists all sought ways to understand how to create values and virtues in the public sector. Montesquieu expressed the basic anomaly in a straightforward way. Virtue is the basic motive governing republics in which each individual is presumed to be self-governing and the legislative power...
Article
In this keynote address prepared for the Miller Upton Forum on the Wealth and Well-Being of Nations at Beloit College, Elinor Ostrom discusses the tools that she and her colleagues have developed to assess the likelihood of a particular social-ecological system (SES) — a common pool resource situated within a particular ecological, economic, and po...
Article
"Ecologists and practitioners have conventionally used forest plots or transects for monitoring changes in attributes of forest condition over time. Yet, given the difficulty in collecting such data, conservation practitioners frequently rely on the judgment of foresters and forest users for evaluating changes. These methods are rarely compared. We...
Article
The literature on global climate change has largely ignored the small but positive steps that many public and private actors are taking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A global policy is frequently posited as the only strategy needed. It is important to balance the major attention on global solutions as the only strategy for coping with climate...
Article
Disturbances to key aspects of ecological systems, including biodiversity loss, climate change, pollution and natural resource degradation, have become a major concern to many policy analysts. Instead of learning from the study of biological complexity however, social scientists tend to recommend simple panaceas, particularly government or private...
Article
Full-text available
We develop an analytic framework for the analysis of robustness in social-ecological systems (SESs) over time. We argue that social robustness is affected by the disturbances that communities face and the way they respond to them. Using Ostrom's ontological framework for SESs, we classify the major factors influencing the disturbances and responses...
Article
Collective-action problems pervade all societies as well as ecological systems used by humans. Substantial evidence has accrued during the last several decades that human actors are able to solve some (but definitely not all) collective-action problems on their own without external rules and enforcement imposed from the outside. In this article, I...
Article
Full-text available
Tremendous progress has been made in understanding the functioning of the Earth system and, in particular, the impact of human actions (1). Although this knowledge can inform management of specific features of our world in transition, societies need knowledge that will allow them to simultaneously reduce global environmental risks while also meetin...
Article
In Ethiopia, groups with a higher propensity to cooperate avoid the tragedy of the commons.
Article
This study reports results from a new series of experiments that examine the robustness of face-to-face communication as a cooperation-facilitating institution in common-pool resource settings. Results are reported from nine experiment sessions, initially designed for pedagogical purposes. The sessions were conducted between 1998 and 2007 as part o...
Article
{textlessptextgreatertextless}br/textgreaterThe 20th anniversary issue of Global Environmental Change provides an important opportunity to address the core questions involved in addressing "global environmental" problems--especially those related to climate change. Climate change is a global collective-action problem since all of us face the likeli...
Article
Full-text available
Most powerful analytical tools used in the social sciences are well suited for studying static situations. Static and mechanistic analysis, however, is not adequate to understand the changing world in which we live. In order to adequately address the most pressing social and environmental challenges looming ahead, we need to develop analytical tool...
Article
Property theory has not kept pace with the growth of empirical and historical information on property systems. This paper, prepared for a Lincoln Institute conference on "The Evolution of Property Systems and Rights Related to Land and Natural Resources": (a) introduces conventional theories of property rights in natural resources (based largely on...
Article
In this account, I discuss my own personal journey and the efforts of many of us associated with the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University to develop better analyses of how institutions affect behavior and outcomes in diverse settings. First, I reflect on my experience as a young student and in my early career, prim...
Conference Paper
Social dilemmas characterize environments in which individuals' exclusive pursuit of their own material self-interest can produce inefficient allocations. Two such environments are those characterized by public goods and common pool resources, in which the social dilemmas can be manifested in free riding and tragedy of the commons outcomes. Much fi...
Article
From p. 807: "We have tried to develop a useful framework for analyzing a wide variety of questions. Their adoption of a modified form of our Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) framework for this important set of questions re-assures us that we met our goal. Charlotte Hess and I organized a conference and coedited a book that examined som...
Article
Full-text available
Governance of social-ecological systems is a major policy problem of the contemporary era. Field studies of fisheries, forests, and pastoral and water resources have identified many variables that influence the outcomes of governance efforts. We introduce an experimental environment that involves spatial and temporal resource dynamics in order to c...
Book
Advances in the social sciences have emerged through a variety of research methods: field-based research, laboratory and field experiments, and agent-based models. However, which research method or approach is best suited to a particular inquiry is frequently debated and discussed. Working Together examines how different methods have promoted vario...
Article
This comment relates to Richard Posner (2010), the lead article for this issue. Posner applies ‘the principles of organization economics’ to the study of diverse types of organizations. His study comparing the FBI to other types of police organization is important and compatible with the study of urban policing in American metropolitan areas. Many...
Article
Full-text available
Improving irrigation systems in Asian countries has been a high priority for the allocation of international aid. Substantial funds have been allocated to adopt the “best practices” of hiring external water engineers to construct modern systems to replace those that farmers built. These expensive investments have infrequently led to long-term impro...
Article
Social dilemmas characterize decision environments in which individuals' exclusive pursuit of their own material self-interest can produce inefficient allocations. Two such environments are those characterized by public goods and common-pool resources in which the social dilemmas can be manifested in free riding and tragedy of the commons outcomes....
Article
This excerpt describes the intellectual journey that I have taken the last half-century from when I began graduate studies in the late 1950s. The early efforts to understand the polycentric water industry in California were formative for me. In addition to working with Vincent Ostrom and Charles Tiebout as they formulated the concept of polycentric...
Article
"Acknowledging the complexity of global warming, as well as the relatively recent agreement among scientists about the human causes of climate change, leads to the recognition that waiting for effective policies to be established at the global level is unreasonable. Instead, it would be better to self-consciously adopt a multi-scale approach to the...
Chapter
Garrett Hardin’s (1968) “tragedy of the commons” is one of the most cited articles in environment science and is assigned repeatedly to undergraduate students in Environmental Science curricula. Whenever scholars and policy discuss the problems of overuse and degradation of natural resources—whether they be fisheries, forests, irrigation systems, o...
Article
Full-text available
En este escrito se sintetiza brevemente la extensa investigación realizada por colegas de una gran diversidad de disciplinas sobre la relación entre los sistemas sociales y los sistemas ecológicos que estos utilizan. Una de las observaciones fundamentales es que el esfuerzo para diseñar esquemas de propósito general fracasa con mucha frecuencia. La...
Article
Full-text available
This paper synthesizes extensive research conducted by colleagues from a wide diversity of disciplines that examines the relationships between the social systems and ecological systems they use. One of the key observations is that efforts to design general-purpose blueprints frequently fail. The variety of conditions of an ecological system rarely...
Article
We discuss the challenges confronting environmental governance caused by the increasing connectivity of resource-use systems and the growing functional interdependencies of ecological and social systems. We take as a point of departure the case of the Xingu Indigenous Park (PIX) in Brazil and its surrounding agro-industrial region. This case provid...
Article
"This paper proposes an alternative approach to addressing the complex problems of climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions. The author, who won the 2009 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, argues that single policies adopted only at a global scale are unlikely to generate sufficient trust among citizens and firms so that collective action c...
Article
Full-text available
Beyond the Tragedy of the Commons - To move beyond Hardin’s tragedy of the commons, it is fundamental to avoid falling into either of two analytical and policy traps: deriving and recommending "panaceas" or asserting "my case is unique". We can move beyond both traps by self-consciously building diagnostic theory to help unpack and understand the c...
Article
A major problem worldwide is the potential loss of fisheries, forests, and water resources. Understanding of the processes that lead to improvements in or deterioration of natural resources is limited, because scientific disciplines use different concepts and languages to describe and explain complex social-ecological systems (SESs). Without a comm...
Article
Full-text available
"Hardins theory depicting a set of pastoralists inexorably trapped in the overuse of their common pasturewas thought for many years to be typical for common-pool resources (CPRs) not owned privately or by a government. Since Hardin thought the users would be trapped in their tragic overuse of a resource, he advocated two solutions to prevent future...
Article
"Problems of the commons exist in a wide variety of settings ranging in size and complexity from the family (e.g., the household budget and the kitchen sink) to the global scale (e.g., loss of biodiversity and global warming). Game theory is a useful theoretical tool for representing a simplified, core social dilemma facing a set of individuals sha...
Article
Full-text available
Advances in the social sciences have emerged through a variety of research methods: field-based research, laboratory and field experiments, and agent-based models. However, which research method and approach is best suited to a particular inquiry is frequently debated and discussed. Working Together examines how different methods have promoted vari...

Citations

... Ostrom's Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) framework, based in SES for example, seeks to understand the various factors of a governance regime that support the sustainable use of a common-pool resource (1990; 2011) and what mitigates against Hardin's (1968) "tragedy of the commons". A key feature is the "action situation" where the components of the system interact, affected by such factors as the attributes of the community, the rules-in-use and the biophysical conditions (Ostrom, 2010). ...
... Therefore, a novel methodology, Swarm Planning, has been developed. This was necessary because to date the adaptive capacity, which is extensively discussed elsewhere (see, for instance, Brooks et al. 2005;Adger et al. 2007;Parry et al. 2007), of urban environments and communities has been acknowledged as too low and the resilience of socioecological systems (Berkes et al. 2000Walker et al. 2002Walker et al. , 2004Anderies et al. 2004;Folke et al. 2005;Folke 2006;Young et al. 2006;Brandizio et al. 2012) was long explained from a resistance point of view because it was too difficult to deal with uncertainty, especially in relation to climate adaptation (Dessai & Hulme 2007;Dessai & Van Der 2007;Kabat 2008;Mearns 2010;Meyer 2012) in a clear society. Engineering, measurable solutions were the result and spatial planning has long been unusable to incorporate uncertainty in its practice because it has been a governmentdominated operation, as schools of planning subsequently have described from incrementalism (Lindblom 1959), postpositivism (Allmendinger 2002), communicative planning (among others, Habermas 1987Habermas , 1993Healey 1997;Innes 2004) and agonism (see Mouffe 1993Mouffe , 2005Hillier 2003;Pløger 2004). ...
... This is in addition to the cultural adaptation of societies to climate change [24]. Culture and the cultural perception of the environment matter [25]; obtaining detailed information about cultures can reveal their similarities and differences, as well as how they might adapt to other cultures, which helps us to understand personal motivations [26,27]. Cultural parameters do affect the parties' decision-making processes and add to the complexity. ...
... A wide range of situations involve the tragedy of the commons [21]. In a basic framework a group of agents invests independently into a common resource [22]. ...
... The study uses regulatory commons dynamics, inspired by the work of (Buzbee, 2003). The regulatory commons dynamics draws on the Hardin's 'tragedy of the commons' (Ostrom, 2008) by focusing on a core common pool resource and conflicts which occurs among its users. The existence of regulatory commons creates an incentive for regulators/ legislators to overlook regulatory opportunities (social problems). ...
... Much of this work comes from the local public economy research that preceded the IAD and informed the concept of polycentric governance in metropolitan areas(Ostrom et al. 1961;Ostrom and Ostrom 1977).4 Reforestation projects receive credits for increasing forest cover; improved forest management projects are credited for reducing harvests; avoided conversion projects earn credits for removing the risk of deforestation.Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. ...
... Mechanisms to relieve this tension are widespread and varied, and they have been the source of much complexity in biological phenotypes and behavior, including even the origin of cellular life itself [1,[1][2][3]. Failure to relieve this tension often results in pathology, disease, or social dysfunction [4][5][6][7]. ...
... As an alternative to the sufficientarian interpretation, the equality principle can be specified as the goal of all countries converging on the same equal-per capita emission level in 2030 (defined as E2-ES-EPC or E3-Full-EPC, indicating convergence of effort-sharing (ES) or all (full) emissions). Then, from 2030 onwards the EU 27 will pursue the 2050 reduction of net-zero without grandfathering 35,36 , that is, without prolonging the inequality of the status-quo levels of emissions into the transformation period. ...
... The use of CDD has been driven by a growing demand from both countries and aid agencies for large-scale, bottom-up, and demand-driven, poverty reduction projects that increase the capacity of communities for selfdevelopment and strengthen local institutions (Malombe, 2000). Dongier et al. (2002) opines that CDD provides communities with a voice and control over all project stages, believing it enhances sustainability, improves efficiency and effectiveness, moves poverty reduction efforts to scale and engender inclusive development. It is also believed to empower the people, build social capital, strengthen governance; and complement market and public sector activities (Baird, 2009;. ...
... Nell'articolo inaugurale del primo numero della rivista International Journal of the Commons, Laerhoven e Ostrom espongono i risultati della loro ricerca statistica sui lavori accademici che, da prima del 1969 (anno di pubblicazione dell'articolo di Hardin) al 2005, si sono interessati alla tematica dei commons. Lo studio mostra una significativa crescita di pubblicazioni accademiche registrata dal 1985 in avanti con una rilevante attenzione multidisciplinare, in particolar modo nelle scienze sociali e su riviste di studi ambientali(van Laerhoven & Ostrom, 2013). ...