Tag Archives: Elinor Ostrom

Resilience 2011 slides and videos

Slides and videos for keynote and invited speaker presentations at Resilience 2011 are now available online.

Video:

Slides:

I didn’t see all of these talks, but those that I did see were good. I particularly recommend Bill Clark, Elinor Ostrom, Carlo Jaegar, and Marten Scheffer’s talks.

Revisiting Ostrom’s Design principles for community-based Natural Resource Management

In her talk at Resilience 2011, Elinor Ostrom recommended a recent paper by her colleagues that reviews 91 studies that empirically evaluated her design principles for for resilient institutions for the management of common pool resources.

Cox, M., G. Arnold, and S. Villamayor Tomás. 2010. A review of design principles for community-based natural resource management. Ecology and Society 15(4): 38. [online] URL: http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol15/iss4/art38/

The authors found that her principals were well supported. They provide a reformulation of the design principals, by dividing each of the components 1,2, and 4 into two parts and keeping the remaining principals as they are.  Their revised principles are below:

Principle Description
1A User boundaries: Clear boundaries between legitimate users and nonusers must be clearly defined.
1B Resource boundaries: Clear boundaries are present that define a resource system and separate it from the larger biophysical environment.
2A Congruence with local conditions: Appropriation and provision rules are congruent with local social and environmental conditions.
2B Appropriation and provision: The benefits obtained by users from a common-pool resource (CPR), as determined by appropriation rules, are proportional to the amount of inputs required in the form of labor, material, or money, as determined by provision rules.
3 Collective-choice arrangements: Most individuals affected by the operational rules can participate in modifying the operational rules.
4A Monitoring users: Monitors who are accountable to the users monitor the appropriation and provision levels of the users.
4B Monitoring the resource: Monitors who are accountable to the users monitor the condition of the resource.
5 Graduated sanctions: Appropriators who violate operational rules are likely to be assessed graduated sanctions (depending on the seriousness and the context of the offense) by other appropriators, by officials accountable to the appropriators, or by both.
6 Conflict-resolution mechanisms: Appropriators and their officials have rapid access to low-cost local arenas to resolve conflicts among appropriators or between appropriators and officials.
7 Minimal recognition of rights to organize: The rights of appropriators to devise their own institutions are not challenged by external governmental authorities.
8 Nested enterprises: Appropriation, provision, monitoring, enforcement, conflict resolution, and governance activities are organized in multiple layers of nested enterprises.

Michael Cox et al conclude:

a probabilistic, rather than deterministic, interpretation of the design principles is warranted. Likewise, we remain uncertain as to whether the principles may apply to systems at a variety of scales. Ultimately, however, the design principles are robust to empirical testing in our analysis of 91 studies. Thus, we conclude that they are a sound basis for future research conducted to further disentangle the interactive effects of relevant variables, both within and across multiple environmental and social scales.

Aside from our empirical analysis, we dealt with an important theoretical debate regarding the principles: Are they inherently part of a blueprint approach to CPR management or can they be combined with a more diagnostic approach? We think the latter is the case, and this points us in a specific direction for future research. Each of the aforementioned empirical complications could likely be addressed by approaching CPR management from a diagnostic perspective. This is a process that helps to sort out what is important in a CPR setting, when, and why. We hope to see and plan to participate in future work to develop this approach further.

Cox, M., G. Arnold, and S. Villamayor Tomás (2010). A review of design principles for community-based natural resource management Ecology and Society, 15 (4)

Stockholm Resilience Centre talks on iTunes

Sturle Hauge Simonsen from Stockholm Resilience Centre has told me that you can freely download Centre seminars and presentations from iTunes. Many shorter presentations are available on YouTube.

Speakers in the iTunes talks includes a diverse group of well known scientists such as Elinor Ostrom, Buzz Holling, Claire Kremen, Pavan Sukhdev, Frances Westley, Terry Hughes, Karen O’Brien, and Johan Rockström.  In total there are over 50 talks by a multi-disciplinary set of sustainability science researchers, including me.

You can download iTunes for free here. Once you have downloaded and opended iTunes, you can find all the SRC’s lectures and seminars by going to the iTunes store, going to podcasts, and searching for Stockholm Resilience Centre in the top right corner of iTunes.

Lin Ostrom’s Life After Winning A Nobel Prize

A fun NPR interview with Elinor Ostrom on Life After Winning a Nobel Prize:

KELLY: Now, to a Nobel of a more recent vintage. Elinor Ostrom won the Nobel Prize in economics last year for her analysis of economic governance. We’ve reached her in Bloomington, Indiana, where she lives and where she teaches at Indiana University. And, Professor Ostrom, how’s the last year gone?

Professor ELINOR OSTROM (Indiana University): Well, you have no warning of the heavy, heavy demands on you afterwards. It is a very great thrill to win a Nobel Prize, and I’m very, very appreciative. But I was not fully prepared for the amount of interest around the world. And I’m coping, but it’s been very intense.

KELLY: A lot of calls from people like us wanting to interview you and on speaking invitations, that type of thing. Is that what you mean?

Prof. OSTROM: Yes, yes. I’ve been receiving about 15 invitations a week, and I am no longer able to accept any talks during 2011.

KELLY: Wow.

Prof. OSTROM: And the accumulation for 2012 is piling up, and I’m going to have to tackle that in another couple of weeks.

KELLY: Well, do you enjoy doing this? It sounds like you’re traveling a lot, meeting interesting people.

Prof. OSTROM: Yes, I am traveling a lot, and I do enjoy it. But I also am teaching, and I have ongoing research and graduate students. And keeping up with it all is a challenge.

KELLY: Well, I have to ask, what did you do with the prize money?

Prof. OSTROM: Oh, well. We have a very, very active research center here at Indiana University. And our foundation is very responsible, so I gave the full sum to the Indiana University Foundation as part of an endowment to support ongoing research.

KELLY: You know, here’s one thing I wonder. Winning a prize as huge and prestigious as the Nobel could, I guess, influence you in a number of different ways. And I wonder does it, in some way, take a bit of the pressure off to have had your work – your lifetime’s work recognized at that kind of level? Does it take a bit of the pressure off in terms of what you feel you still have to do?

Prof. OSTROM: Oh, no.

(Soundbite of laughter)

KELLY: No?

Prof. OSTROM: I wasn’t aiming to win a prize. And so winning it doesn’t take pressure off in terms of future research. Colleagues and I have been puzzling about a variety of key issues. It’s a big challenge, and we’re still working on that.

KELLY: You were kind enough to speak to us last year when you won. And you are the first woman who won the Economics Nobel. I remember when we spoke to you last year, we asked you about that and whether this opens the door for more opportunities for women. Have you been able to see any of that come to fruition?

Prof. OSTROM: Yes, I think. I’m very pleased that women will not be facing the conditions that I faced where I was repeatedly asked why I needed education when I would be barefoot pregnant and in the kitchen.

KELLY: Oh, my.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Prof. OSTROM: So I think that phrase isn’t going to be repeated to current graduate students as frequently as I heard it.

KELLY: Good. Well, it’s been great speaking with you. Thanks so much, Elinor Ostrom.

Should Political Science Be Relevant?

This article might be of interest for all political scientists doing sustainability research. After decades of being dominated by quantitative models and theory-driven research, a panel of prominent scholars at the American Political Science Association (APSA) annual meeting, discussed whether  political science at all, was relevant for policy-makers trying to solve real-world problems. The Inside Higher Ed reports:

Gerry Stoker shared “a wicked thought” […]. What if he called as many senior figures in political science as he could reach and asked them “if they had ever said anything relevant in their entire careers”?

[...]

[…] Stoker also said that the discipline doesn’t reward relevance. A young scholar is more likely to be promoted for “the novelty of methodological contribution” than for “research that actually has an impact.”

The panel included very interesting interventions from prominent political scientists Sven Steinmo (University of Colorado at Boulder), Bo Rothstein (Göteborg Universty, Sweden) and Elinor Ostrom (Indiana University/Arizona State University). Prof. Bo Rothstein provided an interesting  observation:

Rothstein, […], said that maybe the problem to discuss isn’t whether political science is relevant, but whether American political science is relevant.

“If you want to be relevant as a discipline,” he said, “you have to recruit people who want to be relevant.” And in this respect, he said, American political science departments are not doing well.

Read the full article here.

An interview with Elinor Ostrom

Elinor Ostrom will be in Stockholm next week for a seminar at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences among other things (unless the Icelandic ash cloud stops her) [update - it stopped her].  She was also recently interviewed by Fran Korten for Yes! Magazine in Elinor Ostrom Wins Nobel for Common(s) Sense:

Photo by Chris Meyer / Indiana University

Fran Korten: When you first learned that you had won the Nobel Prize in Economics, were you surprised?

Elinor Ostrom: Yes. It was quite surprising. I was both happy and relieved.

Fran: Why relieved?

Elinor: Well, relieved in that I was doing a bunch of research through the years that many people thought was very radical and people didn’t like. As a person who does interdisciplinary work, I didn’t fit anywhere. I was relieved that, after all these years of struggle, someone really thought it did add up. That’s very nice.

And it’s very nice for the team that I’ve been a part of here at the Workshop. We have had a different style of organizing. It is an interdisciplinary center—we have graduate students, visiting scholars, and faculty working together. I never would have won the Nobel but for being a part of that enterprise.

Fran: It’s interesting that your research is about people learning to cooperate. And your Workshop at the university is also organized on principles of cooperation.

Elinor: I have a new book coming out in May entitled Working Together, written with Amy Poteete and Marco Janssen. It is on collective actions in the commons. What we’re talking about is how people work together. We’ve used an immense array of different methods to look at this question—case studies, including my own dissertation and Amy’s work, modeling, experiments, large-scale statistical work. We show how people use multiple methods to work together.

Fran: But what about the “free-rider” problem where some people abide by the rules and some people don’t? Won’t the whole thing fall apart?

Elinor: Well if the people don’t communicate and get some shared norms and rules, that’s right, you’ll have that problem. But if they get together and say, “Hey folks, this is a project that we’re all going to have to contribute to. Now, let’s figure it out,” they can make it work. For example, if it’s a community garden, they might say, “Do we agree every Saturday morning we’re all going to go down to the community garden, and we’re going to take roll and we’re going to put the roll up on a bulletin board?” A lot of communities have figured out subtle ways of making everyone contribute, because if they don’t, those people are noticeable.

Fran: So public shaming and public honoring are one key to managing the commons?

Elinor: Shaming and honoring are very important. We don’t have as much of an understanding of that. There are scholars who understand that, but that’s not been part of our accepted way of thinking about collective action.

Fran: Do you have a favorite example of where people have been able to self-organize to manage property in common?

Elinor: One that I read early on that just unglued me because I wasn’t expecting it was the work of Robert Netting, an anthropologist who had been studying the alpine commons for a very long time. He studied Swiss peasants and then studied in Africa too. He was quite disturbed that people were saying that Africans were primitive because they used common property so frequently and they didn’t know about the benefits of private property. The implication was we’ve got to impose private property rules on them. Netting said, “Are the Swiss peasants stupid? They use common property also.”

Let’s think about this a bit. In the valleys, they use private property, while up in the alpine areas, they use common property. So the same people know about private property and common property, but they choose to use common property for the alpine areas. Why? Well, the alpine areas are what Netting calls “spotty.” The rainfall is high in one section one year, and the snow is great, and it’s rich. But the other parts of the area are dry. Now if you put fences up for private property, then Smith’s got great grass one year he can’t even use it all and Brown doesn’t have any. So, Netting argued, there are places where it makes sense to have an open pasture rather than a closed one. Then he gives you a very good idea of the wide diversity of the particular rules that people have used for managing that common land.

Fran: Why were Netting’s findings so surprising to you?

Elinor: I had grown up thinking that land was something that would always move to private property. I had done my dissertation on groundwater in California, so I was familiar with the management of water as a commons. But when I read Netting, I realized that when there are “spotty” land environments, it really doesn’t make sense to put up fences and have small private plots.

Fran: If you were to have a sit-down session with someone with a big influence on natural resources policy say Robert Zoellick, head of the World Bank, or Ken Salazar, Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, what would be your advice?

Elinor: No panaceas! We tend to want simple formulas. We have two main prescriptions: privatize the resource or make it state property with uniform rules. But sometimes the people who are living on the resource are in the best position to figure out how to manage it as a commons.

Fran: Do you have a message for the general public?

Elinor: We need to get people away from the notion that you have to have a fancy car and a huge house. Some of the homes that have been built in the last 10 years just appall me. Why do humans need huge homes? I was born poor and I didn’t know you bought clothes at anything but the Goodwill until I went to college. Some of our mentality about what it means to have a good life is, I think, not going to help us in the next 50 years. We have to think through how to choose a meaningful life where we’re helping one another in ways that really help the Earth.

Fran: Let’s look ahead 20 years. What would you hope that the world will understand about managing common property systems?

Elinor: What we need is a broader sense of what we call “social ecological systems.” We need to look at the biological side and the social side with one framework rather than 30 different languages. That is big, but I now have some of my colleagues very interested. Some of them are young, and what I find encouraging is that with a bunch of us working together, I can see us moving ahead in the next 20 years or so. Twenty years from now, at 96, I probably won’t be as active.

Elinor Ostrom’s Nobel Prize in Economics

Prize Award Ceremony

Elinor Ostrom receiving her Prize from His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden at the Stockholm Concert Hall, 10 December 2009. Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 2009. Photo: Frida Westholm

Our colleague, Lin Ostrom was just in Stockholm to receive her Nobel Prize. I was fortunate to be able to congratulate Lin Ostrom before her Nobel Lecture.  Her prize Lecture, Beyond Markets and States: Polycentric Governance of Complex Economic Systems » (28 min.  ) is available on the Nobel website.

Her colleagues at Indiana University have been blogging her Stockholm trip, providing some insight into her very busy ittineary, which has included sidetrips to COP 15 in Copenhagen and Uppsala.

Lin Ostrom is on the board of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, and they write:

A sparklingly happy Elinor Ostrom arrived in Stockholm to receive the prize at the Nobel ceremony on the 10t December. Professor Ostrom, who currently serves on the board of  Stockholm Resilience Centre, is a long time research associate of Stockholm Resilience Centre and its partner the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics.

“We need serious people with good theories to look at environmental problems and Stockholm Resilience Centre and the Beijer Institute has gathered extraordinary people to do this”, says Elinor Ostrom enjoying the traditional Nobel reception at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Stockholm Whiteboard Seminars

Fredrik Moberg from Albaeco and Stockholm Resilience Centre has developed a new video seminar concept with Sturle Simonsen called the “Stockholm Whiteboard Seminars”. He says:

The idea is to get away from seminars loaded with lengthy and flashy PowerPoints and go back to basics. So, take the opportunity to get a short and close encounter with a top scientist in the field of sustainable development, who uses the whiteboard to explain an important concept or recent research insight just for you! So, what is this Whiteboard Seminar concept all about? The criteria we use are:

• The scientist has a maximum of 7 minutes to present
• The presentation must be done in an as easy, clear and convincing way possible
• It should be related to people’s everyday life or a current topic in media/politics
• The presentation should evolve around a simple model or a drawing
• The presenter is only allowed to use a black whiteboard pen

The first two videos in the series are below the break…

Continue reading

Novelty Needed for Sustainable Development – Resilience 2008

conclusions panel resilience 2008

The Stockholm Resilience Centre has released two press releases on the conclusion of Resilience 2008.

The first Novelty thinking key to sustainable development reports on the concluding panel of the conference in which Elinor Ostrom, Sverker Sörlin, Carole Crumley, Line Gordon and Buzz Holling reflected on the conference, lessons from the past and the answers for the future.

Buzz Holling, considered the father of resilience thinking, called for freedom and flexibility in order to generate multilevel change and novelty thinking. This is needed in a time when several crises are emerging, he said.

- This year a cluster of predicted crises have become aware to the public, such as the rise of food prices due to energy market changes and the collapse of the financial market. We see that small instabilities and risks spread to practically all developed countries in the world. However, globalisation also adds a great positive value because the individual or small groups can have an increasingly global effect, Holling said.

Resilience as an continuance of sustainability thinking
Sverker Sörlin and Carole Crumley both argued that we have moved beyond traditional discussions around sustainability and that resilience thinking is increasingly being embraced as an integrated part of sustainable development thinking.

- Resilience thinking will not replace the sustainability discourse, but we can use resilience to develop sustainability further, Sörlin said. He was followed up by Line Gordon who noted that the key approach with resilience thinking is that although we might have solutions for sustainable development, we will face challenges and we must be prepared for surprises.

Continue reading