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Beyond Markets and States: Polycentric Governance of Complex Economic System

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Type: Working Paper
Author: Ostrom, Elinor
Date: 2009
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/7707
Sector: General & Multiple Resources
Subject(s): Workshop
Nobel Prize
economic behavior
common pool resources
Abstract: "In this article, I will describe the intellectual journey that I have taken the last half century from when I began graduate studies in the late 1950s. The early efforts to understand the polycentric water industry in California were formative for me. In addition to working with Vincent Ostrom and Charles Tiebout as they formulated the concept of polycentric systems for governing metropolitan areas, I studied the efforts of a large group of private and public water producers facing the problem of an overdrafted groundwater basin on the coast and watching saltwater intrusion threaten the possibility of long-term use. Then, in the 1970s, I participated with colleagues in the study of polycentric police industries serving US metropolitan areas to find that the dominant theory underlying massive reform proposals was incorrect. Metropolitan areas served by a combination of large and small producers could achieve economies of scale in the production of some police services and avoid diseconomies of scale in the production of others."

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