“Elinor Ostrom has long stressed the value of different research fields and societal interests collaborating to enhance the stewardship of commonly held resources, such as the ecosystems that sustain us. Her work brings forward the importance of joint action and trust among people, and it instills hope regarding the enormous environmental challenges humankind is facing today,” says Carl Folke, research director at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University.

Elinor Ostrom is a member of the board of the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University. This is the only international board post of this character that Elinor Ostrom has. She also participates regularly in research and teaching at the Stockholm Resilience Centre.

Stockholm Resilience Centre: http://www.stockholmresilience.org/

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Carl Folke, research director, Stockholm Resilience Centre, can be reached vis the Centre’s Head of communications, Ellika Hermansson Török, cell phone: +46 (0)73-707 85 47, ellika@stockholmresilience.su.se


The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel for 2009 to Elinor Ostrom, Indiana University, “for her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons,” and to Oliver E. Williamson, University of California, “for his analysis of economic governance, especially the boundaries of the firm.” Elinor Ostrom has demonstrated how commonly held resources can be successfully managed by associations of users. Oliver E. Williamson has developed a theory in which companies are regarded as structures for conflict resolution. Thereby they have laid the groundwork for burgeoning research on economic governance.

Economic transactions take place not only in markets but also within companies, associations, households, and authorities. While economic theory sheds light on the strengths and limitations of the market, it has devoted less interest to other institutional arrangements. Elinor Ostrom’s and Oliver Williamson’s research shows that economic analysis can help us understand widely divergent forms of organization, according to the Royal Academy.

Elinor Ostrom has challenged the conventional view that commonly held property is often mismanaged and should therefore be either privatized or regulated by central authorities. Based on a large number of studies of commonly managed fish stocks, pasturelands, forests, lakes, and water supplies, Ostrom finds that the results are often better than conventional theory would predict. To deal with conflicts, users have developed sophisticated mechanisms for decision-making and observance of regulations, and Ostrom shows what characterizes successful user associations.

ELINOR OSTROM, U.S. citizen. Born in Los Angeles, CA, in 1933. Ph.D. in political science in 1965 from the University of California, Los Angeles. Arthur F. Bentley Professor of Political Science and professor at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, both at Indiana University, Bloomington. Founding Director, Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity vid Arizona State University, Tempe, USA.

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