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Marks of Ostromic Intelligible Scholarship in Africa: Taking Theories to the Streets through Polycentric Planning and Poverty Reduction Strategy (PPPRS)

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Akinola, Shittu
Conference: Workshop on the Workshop 4
Location: Indiana University Bloomington
Conf. Date: June 3-6, 2009
Date: 2009
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/2353
Sector: Social Organization
Global Commons
Subject(s): Ostrom, Vincent
poverty alleviation
institutional analysis--IAD framework
global commons
Abstract: "This paper reports the impact of my intellectual encounter with Vincent Ostrom - 'taking theories to the streets.' Knowledge and its application are acknowledged as key sources of growth and development in the global economy, especially if it is adapted to specific circumstances and effectively utilized to generate significant opportunities for reducing poverty and promoting development. However, knowledge generated by African scholars is in defiance of African realities; hence, the persistent gap between theories and realities in all spheres of life. Vincent Ostrom cautions, 'To find a theory useful for thinking about problems does not mean that Africa should copy the American model. The task, rather, is to use conceptions and the associated theoretical apparatus as intellectual tools to think through problems and make an independent assessment of appropriate ways for addressing the problems of contemporary Africa.' The question is: How capable are Africans to resolve their internal crisis without recourse to external assistance? "Using the Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) framework, this paper identifies and discusses repetitive missing links as well as the areas that are neglected by scholars and policymakers in the governance of community affairs in Africa. The point of departure of this paper, therefore, is in problem solving and solution seeking. It argues that in some ways, the weakness of centralized and structurally-defective governance in Africa provides an opportunity for community self-governing institutions to play the role that governments and their agencies have abandoned. This paper provides case studies and designs models to demonstrate principles and practices needed to make Polycentric Planning and Poverty Reduction Strategy (PPPRS), self-governance and adaptive development strategies resolve socio-economic and political crisis in Africa. It calls the attention of African scholars to the imperative of making their scholarship problem-solving, solution-seeking, and relevant to their community. "The paper, thereafter, charts a course of action that could be taken to ensure that African scholars and African universities become 'organic' in their activities and use their intellectual capabilities to impact positively on their communities. It is in the light of this exigency that two strategic development models are advocated--(1) African Intellectual Gap Measurement Model (AIGMM) designed to measure intellectual potentials and relevance of African universities and (2) African Public Sphere Restructuring Model (APSRM) developed to restructure the public sphere in Africa. APSRM derives inspirations and workability mechanisms from thirteen African development models that cut across several sectors of the economy in Africa. Using polycentric planning and poverty reduction strategy, these home-grown models are concerned with how people can work together, from community level, to address African challenges, especially the current food insecurity and unemployment crisis and thereby tackling the current global economic meltdown in Africa."

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