Elinor Claire Awan
August 7, 1933
|Died||June 12, 2012 78) (aged|
Vincent Ostrom (1965–2012; her death)
|New institutional economics|
|Alma mater||UCLA (BA, PhD)|
|Information at IDEAS / RePEc|
Elinor Claire "Lin" Ostrom (née Awan; August 7, 1933 – June 12, 2012) was an American political economistwhose work was associated with the New Institutional Economics and the resurgence of political economy. In 2009, she was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for her "analysis of economic governance, especially the commons", which she shared with Oliver E. Williamson. To date, she remains the first of only two women to win the Nobel Prize in Economics, the other being Esther Duflo.
After graduating with a B.A. and Ph.D. from UCLA, Ostrom lived in Bloomington, Indiana, and served on the faculty of Indiana University, with a late-career affiliation with Arizona State University. She was Distinguished Professor at Indiana University and the Arthur F. Bentley Professor of Political Science and co-director of the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University, as well as research professor and the founding director of the Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity at Arizona State University in Tempe.She was a lead researcher for the Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resource Management Collaborative Research Support Program (SANREM CRSP), managed by Virginia Tech and funded by USAID. Beginning in 2008, she and her husband Vincent Ostrom advised the journal Transnational Corporations Review.
Since the 60s, Ostrom was involved in resource management policy and created a research center, which attracted scientists from different disciplines from around the world. Working and teaching at her center was created on the principle of a workshop, rather than a university with lectures and a strict hierarchy.
Ostrom studied the interaction of people and ecosystems for many years and showed that the use of exhaustible resources by groups of people (communities, cooperatives, trusts, trade unions) can be rational and prevent depletion of the resource without government intervention.
Elinor Claire Awan was born in Los Angeles, California as the only child of Leah Hopkins, a musician, and Adrian Awan, a set designer.Her parents separated early in her life, and Elinor lived with her mother most of the time. She attended a Protestant church with her mother and often spent weekends with her father's Jewish family. Growing up in the post-Depression era to divorced artisans, Ostrom described herself as a "poor kid." Her major recreational activity was swimming, where she eventually joined a swimming team and swam competitively until she started teaching swimming to earn funds to help put herself through college.
Ostrom grew up across the street from Beverly Hills High School, which she attended, graduating in 1951.She regarded this as fortunate, for the school had a very high rate of college admittance. During Ostrom's junior year, she was encouraged to join the debate team. Learning debate tactics had an important impact on her ways of thinking. It allowed her to realize there are two sides to public policy and it is imperative to have quality arguments for both sides. As a high school student, Elinor Ostrom had been discouraged from studying trigonometry, as girls without top marks in algebra and geometry were not allowed to take the subject. No one in her immediate family had any college experience, but seeing that 90% of students in her high school attended college, she saw it as the "normal" thing to do. Her mother did not wish for her to attend college, seeing no reason for it.
She attended UCLA, receiving a B.A. (with honors) in political science at UCLA in 1954.By attending multiple summer session and extra classes throughout semesters, she was able to graduate in three years. She worked at the library, dime store and bookstore in order to pay her fees which were $50 per semester. She married a classmate, Charles Scott, and worked at General Radio in Cambridge, Massachusetts, while Scott attended Harvard Law School. They divorced several years later when Ostrom began contemplating a Ph.D. After graduation, she had trouble finding a job because employers presumed that she was only looking for jobs as a teacher or secretary. She began a job as an export clerk after taking a correspondence course for shorthand, which she later found to be helpful when taking notes in face-to-face interviews on research projects. After a year, she obtained a position as assistant personnel manager in a business firm that had never before hired a woman in anything but a secretarial position. This job inspired her to think about attending graduate-level courses and eventually applying for a research assistantship and admission to a Ph.D. program.
Lacking trigonometry from high school, she was consequently rejected for an economics Ph.D. at UCLA.She was admitted to UCLA's graduate program in political science, where she was awarded an M.A. in 1962 and a Ph.D. in 1965. She married political scientist Vincent Ostrom in 1963, whom she met while assisting his research on water resource governance in Southern California. The teams of graduate students she was involved with were analyzing the political economic effects of a group of groundwater basins in Southern California. Specifically, Ostrom was assigned to look at the West Basin. She found it is very difficult to manage a common-pool resource when it is used between individuals. The locals were pumping too much groundwater and salt water seeped into the basin. Ostrom was impressed with how people from conflicting and overlapping jurisdictions who depended on that source found incentives to settle contradictions and solve the problem. She made the study of this collaboration the topic of her dissertation, laying the foundation for the study of "shared resources". The postgraduate seminar was led by Vincent Ostrom, an associate professor of political science, 14 years her senior, whom she married later. This marked the beginning of a lifelong partnership that named "love and contestation" as Ostrom put it in her dedication to her seminal 1990 book, Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action.
In 1961 Vincent Ostrom, Charles Tiebout, and Robert Warren published "The Organization of Government in Metropolitan Areas," which would go on to be an influential article and introduced themes that would be central to the Ostroms' work.However, the article aggravated a conflict with UCLA's Bureau of Governmental Research because, counter to the Bureau's interests, it advised against centralization of metropolitan areas in favor of polycentrism. This conflict prompted the Ostroms to leave UCLA. They moved to Bloomington, Indiana, in 1965, when Vincent accepted a political science professorship at Indiana University. She joined the faculty as Visiting Assistant Professor. The first course she taught was an evening class on American government.
Ostrom is probably best known for revisiting the so-called “tragedy of the commons" – a theory proposed by biologist Garrett Hardin in 1968.
"In an article by the same name published in the journal Science, Hardin theorized that if each herdsman sharing a piece of common grazing land made the individually rational economic decision of increasing the number of cattle he keeps on the land, the collective effect would deplete or destroy the commons. In other words, multiple individuals—acting independently and rationally consulting their own self-interest—will ultimately deplete a shared limited resource, even when it is clear that it is not in anyone’s long-term interest for this to happen. Ostrom believes that the “tragedy” in such situations isn’t inevitable, as Hardin thought. Instead, if the herders decide to cooperate with one another, monitoring each other’s use of the land and enforcing rules for managing it, they can avoid the tragedy."
Garrett Hardin believes that the most important aspect that we need to realize today is the need to abandon the principle of shared resources in reproduction. A possible alternative to the tragedy of the commons (shared needs) was described in Elinor Ostrom's book "Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action". The book demonstrates on a factual material that there are practical algorithms for the collective use of a limited common resource, which allow the selfish behavior of stakeholders within the framework of the accepted algorithms for quoting and control, while the result of interaction is not devastation, but rational use and renewal of the resource.
Ostrom was richly informed by fieldwork, both her own and that of others. During her PhD at the University of California, Los Angeles, she spent years studying the water wars and pumping races going on in the 1950s in her own dry backyard. In contrast to the prevailing rational-economic predictions of Malthusianism and the tragedy of the commons, she showed cases where humans were not trapped and helpless amid diminishing supplies. In her book Governing the Commons , she draws on studies of irrigation systems in Spain and Nepal, mountain villages in Switzerland and Japan, and fisheries in Maine and Indonesia.
In 1973, Ostrom and her husband founded the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University.Examining the use of collective action, trust, and cooperation in the management of common pool resources (CPR), her institutional approach to public policy, known as the Institutional analysis and development framework (IAD), has been considered sufficiently distinct to be thought of as a separate school of public choice theory. She authored many books in the fields of organizational theory, political science, and public administration. Elinor Ostrom was a dedicated scholar until the very end of her life. Indeed, on the day before she died, she sent e-mail messages to at least two different sets of coauthors about papers that she was writing with them. She was the chief scientific advisor for the International Council for Science (ICSU) Planet Under Pressure meeting in London in March, and Johan Rockstrom of the Stockholm Resilience Centre wrote that
"Lin, up until the very end, was heavily involved in our preparations for the Nobel laureate dialogues on global sustainability we will be hosting in Rio 17th and 18th of June during the UN Rio+20 Earth Summit. In the end, she decided she could not come in person, but was contributing sharp, enthusiastically charged, inputs, in the way only she could."
It was long unanimously held among economists that natural resources that were collectively used by their users would be over-exploited and destroyed in the long-term. Elinor Ostrom disproved this idea by conducting field studies on how people in small, local communities manage shared natural resources, such as pastures, fishing waters and forests. She showed that when natural resources are jointly used by their users, in time, rules are established for how these are to be cared for and used in a way that is both economically and ecologically sustainable.
She was senior research director of the Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, Distinguished Professor and Arthur F. Bentley Professor of Political Science in the College of Arts and Sciences, and professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs.
Ostrom's innovative and ground-breaking research was supported by National Science Foundation, the Andrew Mellon Foundation, the Hynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, U.S.A.I.D., the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the National Institute of Mental Health.
Ostrom has been involved in international activities throughout her long and productive career. Had experience in Kenya, Nepal and Nigeria, and also made research trips to Australia, Bolivia, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Philippines, Poland and Zimbabwe. During workshops and research grants, she and her husband supported many international students, visited researchers and policymakers. They did not have children of their own and used personal funds and efforts to receive grants to help others. In a 2010 interview, Ostrom noted that because they had no family to support, “I was not ever concerned about salary, so that’s never been an issue for me. For some colleagues who have big families, and all the rest, it’s a major issue.”
Ostrom was a founding member and first president of the IASC (International Association for the Study of the Commons).
Ostrom's early work emphasized the role of public choice on decisions influencing the production of public goods and services.Among her better known works in this area is her study on the polycentricity of police functions in Indianapolis. Caring for the commons had to be a multiple task, organised from the ground up and shaped to cultural norms. It had to be discussed face to face, and based on trust. Dr. Ostrom, besides poring over satellite data and quizzing lobstermen herself, enjoyed employing game theory to try to predict the behaviour of people faced with limited resources. In her Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University—set up with her husband Vincent, a political scientist, in 1973—her students were given shares in a national common. When they discussed what they should do before they did it, their rate of return from their "investments" more than doubled. Her later, and more famous, work focused on how humans interact with ecosystems to maintain long-term sustainable resource yields. Common pool resources include many forests, fisheries, oil fields, grazing lands, and irrigation systems. She conducted her field studies on the management of pasture by locals in Africa and irrigation systems management in villages of western Nepal (e.g., Dang Deukhuri). Her work has considered how societies have developed diverse institutional arrangements for managing natural resources and avoiding ecosystem collapse in many cases, even though some arrangements have failed to prevent resource exhaustion. Her work emphasized the multifaceted nature of human–ecosystem interaction and argues against any singular "panacea" for individual social-ecological system problems.
The Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis was meant to utilize diverse scholars throughout economics, political science, and other fields to collaborate and attempt to understand how institutional arrangements in a diverse set of ecological and social economic political settings affected behavior and outcomes. The goal was not to fly around the world collecting data, rather it is to create a network of scholars who live in particular areas of the world and had strong interests in forest conditions and forest policy conducted the studies.
Ostrom identified eight "design principles" of stable local common pool resource management:
These principles have since been slightly modified and expanded to include a number of additional variables believed to affect the success of self-organized governance systems, including effective communication, internal trust and reciprocity, and the nature of the resource system as a whole.
Ostrom and her many co-researchers have developed a comprehensive "Social-Ecological Systems (SES) framework", within which much of the still-evolving theory of common-pool resources and collective self-governance is now located.
According to the Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research, "Ostrom cautioned against single governmental units at global level to solve the collective action problem of coordinating work against environmental destruction. Partly, this is due to their complexity, and partly to the diversity of actors involved. Her proposal was that of a polycentric approach, where key management decisions should be made as close to the scene of events and the actors involved as possible." Ostrom helped disprove the idea held by economists that natural resources would be over-used and destroyed in the long run. Elinor Ostrom disproved this idea by conducting field studies on how people in small, local communities manage shared natural resources, such as pastures, fishing waters in Maine and Indonesia, and forests in Nepal. She showed that when natural resources are jointly managed by their users, in time, rules are established for how these are to be cared for and used in a way that is both economically and ecologically sustainable.
Ostrom's law is an adage that represents how Elinor Ostrom's works in economics challenge previous theoretical frameworks and assumptions about property, especially the commons. Ostrom's detailed analyses of functional examples of the commons create an alternative view of the arrangement of resources that are both practically and theoretically possible. This eponymous law is stated succinctly by Lee Anne Fennell as:
A resource arrangement that works in practice can work in theory.
Ostrom was a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences,a member of the American Philosophical Society, and president of the American Political Science Association and the Public Choice Society. In 1999, she became the first woman to receive the prestigious Johan Skytte Prize in Political Science.
Ostrom was awarded the Frank E. Seidman Distinguished Award for Political Economy in 1998. Her presented paper, on "The Comparative Study of Public Economies",was followed by a discussion among Kenneth Arrow, Thomas Schelling, and Amartya Sen. She was awarded the John J. Carty Award from the National Academy of Sciences in 2004, and, in 2005, received the James Madison Award by the American Political Science Association. In 2008, she became the first woman to receive the William H. Riker Prize in political science; and, the following year, she received the Tisch Civic Engagement Research Prize from the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University. In 2010, the Utne Reader magazine included Ostrom as one of the "25 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World". She was named one of Time magazine's "100 Most Influential People in the World" in 2012.
The International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) awarded its Honorary Fellowship to her in 2002.
In 2008 she was awarded an honorary degree, doctor honoris causa, at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
In July 2019, Indiana University Bloomington announced that as part of their Bridging the Visibility Gap initiative, a statue of Ostrom would be placed outside of the building which houses the University's political science department.
In 2009, Ostrom became the first woman to receive the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences cited Ostrom "for her analysis of economic governance", saying her work had demonstrated how common property could be successfully managed by groups using it. Ostrom and Oliver E. Williamson shared the 10-million Swedish kronor (€990,000; $1.44 million) prize for their separate work in economic governance. As she had done with previous monetary prizes, Ostrom donated her award to the Workshop she helped to found.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said Ostrom's "research brought this topic from the fringe to the forefront of scientific attention...by showing how common resources—forests, fisheries, oil fields or grazing lands—can be managed successfully by the people who use them rather than by governments or private companies". Ostrom's work in this regard challenged conventional wisdom, showing that common resources can be successfully managed without government regulation or privatization.
In awarding Ostrom the Nobel Prize for the Analysis of Economic Governance, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences noted that her work "teaches us novel lessons about the deep mechanisms that sustain cooperation in human societies." Even if Ostrom's selection (along with co-recipient Oliver Williamson of the University of California, Berkeley) seemed odd to some, others saw it as an appropriate reaction to free-market inefficiencies highlighted by the 2008 financial crisis.
Ostrom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in October 2011. a.m. Tuesday, June 12, 2012, at IU Health Bloomington Hospital at the age of 78. On the day of her death, she published her last article, "Green from the Grassroots," in Project Syndicate. Indiana University president Michael McRobbie wrote: "Indiana University has lost an irreplaceable and magnificent treasure with the passing of Elinor Ostrom". Her Indiana colleague Michael McGinnis commented after her death that Ostrom donated her share of the $1.4 million Nobel award money to the Workshop—the biggest, by far, of several academic prizes with monetary awards that the Ostroms had given to the center over the years. Her husband Vincent died 17 days later from complications related to cancer. He was 92.During the final year of her life, she continued to write and lecture, giving the Hayek Lecture at the Institute of Economic Affairs just eleven weeks before her death. She died at 6:40
In economic science, the tragedy of the commons is a situation in which individual users, who have open access to a resource unhampered by shared social structures or formal rules that govern access and use, act independently according to their own self-interest and, contrary to the common good of all users, cause depletion of the resource through their uncoordinated action. The concept originated in an essay written in 1833 by the British economist William Forster Lloyd, who used a hypothetical example of the effects of unregulated grazing on common land in Great Britain and Ireland. The concept became widely known as the "tragedy of the commons" over a century later after an article written by Garrett Hardin in 1968.
Public choice, or public choice theory, is "the use of economic tools to deal with traditional problems of political science". Its content includes the study of political behavior. In political science, it is the subset of positive political theory that studies self-interested agents and their interactions, which can be represented in a number of ways – using standard constrained utility maximization, game theory, or decision theory.
Ronald J. Oakerson is a professor emeritus of political science and intercultural studies at Houghton College. He has served previously as the college's Vice President and Dean, as well as the chairman of the Department of History and Political Science. He is a founding member of the National Rural Studies Council and served on the American Political Science Association's Task Force on Civic Education for the Next Century. Elinor Ostrom described Oakerson as an important contributor to the Institutional Analysis and Development Framework. On the version of the framework Oakerson presented at the Proceedings of the Conference on Common Property Resource Management at the National Research Council in April 1985, Ostrom wrote that it "...has influenced an untold number of studies of common-property regimes in many diverse sectors in all regions of the world."
Oliver Eaton Williamson was an American economist, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and recipient of the 2009 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, which he shared with Elinor Ostrom. His transaction costs theories are influential in the social sciences.
New institutionalism or neo-institutionalism is an approach to the study of institutions that focuses on the constraining and enabling effects of formal and informal rules on the behavior of individuals and groups. New institutionalism traditionally encompasses three strands: Sociological institutionalism, Rational choice institutionalism, and Historical institutionalism. New institutionalism originated in work by sociologist John Meyer published in 1977.
Institutional economics focuses on understanding the role of the evolutionary process and the role of institutions in shaping economic behavior. Its original focus lay in Thorstein Veblen's instinct-oriented dichotomy between technology on the one side and the "ceremonial" sphere of society on the other. Its name and core elements trace back to a 1919 American Economic Review article by Walton H. Hamilton. Institutional economics emphasizes a broader study of institutions and views markets as a result of the complex interaction of these various institutions. The earlier tradition continues today as a leading heterodox approach to economics.
A private good is defined in economics as "an item that yields positive benefits to people" that is excludable, i.e. its owners can exercise private property rights, preventing those who have not paid for it from using the good or consuming its benefits; and rivalrous, i.e. consumption by one necessarily prevents that of another. A private good, as an economic resource is scarce, which can cause competition for it. The market demand curve for a private good is a horizontal summation of individual demand curves.
John A. Baden is founder and chairman of the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment (FREE) based in Bozeman, Montana.
The commons is the cultural and natural resources accessible to all members of a society, including natural materials such as air, water, and a habitable earth. These resources are held in common, not owned privately. Commons can also be understood as natural resources that groups of people manage for individual and collective benefit. Characteristically, this involves a variety of informal norms and values employed for a governance mechanism. Commons can be also defined as a social practice of governing a resource not by state or market but by a community of users that self-governs the resource through institutions that it creates.
In economics, a common-pool resource (CPR) is a type of good consisting of a natural or human-made resource system, whose size or characteristics makes it costly, but not impossible, to exclude potential beneficiaries from obtaining benefits from its use. Unlike pure public goods, common pool resources face problems of congestion or overuse, because they are subtractable. A common-pool resource typically consists of a core resource, which defines the stock variable, while providing a limited quantity of extractable fringe units, which defines the flow variable. While the core resource is to be protected or nurtured in order to allow for its continuous exploitation, the fringe units can be harvested or consumed.
The International Forestry Resources and Institutions (IFRI) Network is a collective of research partners at 12 universities or non-governmental organizations in 11 countries around the world that focus on how institutions and governance arrangements shape forest use and management outcomes. Scholars and policy makers affiliated with IFRI are interested in understanding the role of formal and informal institutions in enhancing livelihoods and adaptive capacity of peoples, conserving biodiversity, and promoting greater sustainability in carbon sequestration. IFRI's goal is to carry out rigorous research that can help policy makers and forest users design and implement improved evidence-based forest policies. IFRI comprises partner collaborating research institutes in North America, Latin America, Asia and Africa. IFRI utilizes the Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) framework, created at the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University by Elinor Ostrom and her colleagues.
New institutional economics (NIE) is an economic perspective that attempts to extend economics by focusing on the institutions that underlie economic activity and with analysis beyond earlier institutional economics and neoclassical economics. Unlike neoclassical economics, it also considers the role of culture and classical political economy in economic development.
Institutional analysis is that part of the social sciences which studies how institutions—i.e., structures and mechanisms of social order and cooperation governing the behavior of two or more individuals—behave and function according to both empirical rules and also theoretical rules. This field deals with how individuals and groups construct institutions, how institutions function in practice, and the effects of institutions on each other, on individuals, societies and the community at large.
The O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs is one of the undergraduate and graduate schools of Indiana University, and is the largest public policy and environmental studies school of its kind in the United States. Founded in 1972, as the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs, it was the first school to combine public management, policy, and administration with the environmental sciences. The school was founded on the IU Bloomington campus, and today also has a campus at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). O'Neill School Bloomington is the top ranked school of public affairs in the United States. The school received a facelift and expansion when the Paul O'Neill Graduate Center opened for classes in the Spring 2017 semester due to the growing influx of students. On March 4, 2019, the name was changed to the O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, in honor of alumnus Paul H. O'Neill, who served as the United States Secretary of the Treasury in 2001–2002.
Vincent Alfred Ostrom was an American political economist and the Founding Director of the Ostrom Workshop based at Indiana University and the Arthur F. Bentley Professor Emeritus of Political Science. He and his wife, the economist Elinor Ostrom, made numerous contributions to the field of political science, political economy, and public choice.
The term "knowledge commons" refers to information, data, and content that is collectively owned and managed by a community of users, particularly over the Internet. What distinguishes a knowledge commons from a commons of shared physical resources is that digital resources are non-subtractible; that is, multiple users can access the same digital resources with no effect on their quantity or quality.
Lee J. Alston is the Ostrom Chair, Professor of Economics and Law, and Director of the Ostrom Workshop at Indiana University. He is also a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. On August 6, 2014, Alston was appointed director of the Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University, Bloomington, from which he received his B.A. in 1973. His research has focused on institutions and contracts and their role in influencing rural land use in the US and Brazil. In 2012 Alston was awarded a ClioCan award by the Cliometric Society for Exceptional Support to the Field of Cliometrics.
Sue Crawford née Sue Steinhauser, is a politician from the U.S. state of Nebraska. She represents District 45, which includes the city of Bellevue and Offutt Air Force Base, in the Nebraska Legislature.
The Institutional Analysis and Development framework (IAD) was developed by Elinor Ostrom, an American political scientist, who was the first woman to receive the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2009. The IAD relates a set of concepts to help in the analysis of commons, such as fishery stocks, woodlands. Ostrom explored which institutional structures support arrangements that handle those resource stocks in a sustainable way, balancing individuals' use with the interest of a wider public. Under the rational choice models, the IAD was devised in an attempt to explain and predict outcomes by formally exploring and documenting the governance structures, the actors' positions, and the informal and formal rules devised for individuals to extract resources from the commons resource. Thus, the IAD is a systematic method to document policy analysis functions similar to analytic technique commonly used in physical and social sciences and understand how institutions operate and change over a period of time.
Clark C. Gibson is an American political scientist, best known for his work on African politics, elections in emerging democracies, and environmental politics. Gibson is currently a professor at the University of California, San Diego, where he previously served as chairman of the Department of Political Science. He has consulted for The World Bank, The United Nations, the Carter Center, the United States Agency for International Development, the National Democratic Institute, and the International Republican Institute. Gibson has done influential work on electoral fraud.
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