Nobel laureate

Elinor Ostrom
Former professor, School of Human Evolution and Social Change
Founding director, Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity

“As a political scientist Elinor Ostrom's research methods differed from how most economists work. Usually they start with a hypothesis, an assumption of reality, which is then put to the test. Elinor Ostrom started with an actual reality instead. She gathered information through field studies on how people in small, local communities manage shared natural resources, such as pastures, fishing waters, and forests and then analyzed this material. In her book “Governing the Commons” (1990), she challenged the conventional wisdom by demonstrating how common property can be successfully managed by local commons without any regulation by central authorities or privatization and that economic analysis can shed light on most forms of social organization. Her research had great impact amongst political scientists and economists.” ( Ostrom was the first woman to receive the the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel for 2009 in Economic Sciences. She was named one of the most influential people in the world by Time Magazine in 2012.

At Arizona State University, Ostrom founded the Center for the Study of Institutional Analysis (now the Center for Behavior Institutions and the Environment). She was a research professor in ASU’s School of Human Evolution and Social Change and her teaching included institutions, society and the environment. Ostrom passed away in 2012.


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