The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2009
Elinor Ostrom, Oliver E. Williamson
Born: 7 August 1933, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Died: 12 June 2012, Bloomington, IN, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, USA, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA
Prize motivation: "for her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons"
Field: economic governance
Contribution: Challenged the conventional wisdom by demonstrating how local property can be successfully managed by local commons without any regulation by central authorities or privatization.
Prize share: 1/2
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 and then analyzed this material. In her book 'Governing the Commons' from 1990, she demonstrated how common property can be successfully managed by user associations and that economic analysis can shed light on most forms of social organization. Her research had great impact amongst political scientists and economists.