Polycentric Governance and Development
[Volume 1]October 29, 1998
Polycentric Governance and Development:
Readings from the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis
Edited by Michael D. McGinnis

Series Foreword
Michael D. McGinnis

Michael D. McGinnis

Part I. Resource Management

1. Water and Politics California Style {To Reference}
Vincent Ostrom

2. Legal and Political Conditions of Water Resource Development {To Reference}
Vincent Ostrom and Elinor Ostrom

3. Institutional Capacity and the Resolution of a Commons Dilema {To Reference}
William Blomquist and Elinor Ostrom

4. Design Principles in Long-Enduring Irrigation Institutions {To Reference}
Elinor Ostrom

5. Property-Rights Regimes and Coastal Fisheries: An Empirical Analysis {To Reference}
Edella Schlager and Elinor Ostrom

6. Mobile Flows, Storage, and Self-Organized Institutions for Governing Common-Pool Resources {To Reference}
Edella Schlager, William Blomquist, and Shui Yan Tang

Part II. Constitutional Order

7. A Forgotten Tradition: The Constitutional Level of Analysis {To Reference}
Vincent Ostrom

8. Cryptoimperialism, Predatory States, and Self-Governance {To Reference}
Vincent Ostrom

9. The Concentration of Authority: Constitutional Creation in the Gold Coast, 1950 {To Reference}
Kathryn Firmin-Sellers

10. Local Organizations and Development: The African Experience {To Reference}
Dele Olowu

Part III. Development

11. Institutional Analysis and Decentralization: Developing an Analytical Framework for Effective Third World Administrative Reform {To Reference}
James S. Wunsch

12. Improving the Performance of Small-Scale Irrigation Systems: The Effects of Technological Investments and Governance Structure on Irrigation Performance in Nepal {To Reference}
Wai Fung Lam

13. Institutional Design of Public Agencies and Coproduction: A Study of Irrigation Associations in Taiwan {To Reference}
Wai Fung Lam

14. Informal Credit Markets and Economic Development in Taiwan {To Reference}
Shui-Yan Tang

15. Crossing the Great Divide: Coproduction, Synergy, and Development {To Reference}
Elinor Ostrom

Part IV. Polycentric Governance

16. Artisanship and Artifact {To Reference}
Vincent Ostrom

17. Problems of Cognition as a Challenge to Policy Analysts and Democratic Societies {To Reference}
Vincent Ostrom

Suggested Further Readings
List of Contributors

  • Series Foreword: Self-Governance, Institutional Analysis, and the Workshop
  • Polycentric Governance and Development
  • Polycentricity and Local Public Economies
  • Polycentric Games and Institutions

  • [Volume 1] Revised Draft 6/2/98
    Polycentric Governance and Development:
    Readings from the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis
    Introduction: From Resource Management to Constitutional Order
    Michael D. McGinnis

    Fisheries, irrigation systems, and groundwater basins may seem unpromising subjects for a book on governance and development, but the management of commonly held resources requires political skill. When one person appropriates a portion of a common-pool resource (CPR), that portion is no longer available for another person's use. Efforts to exclude others from appropriation can be very costly in terms of the time and effort required to establish rules, monitor compliance, and sanction rule violators. Thus, any CPR user group faces a basic dilemma of collective action: how can the common goal of sustaining secure access to this resource be realized despite individual incentives to free ride on the efforts of others or to overexploit common resources for private gain? This is an inherently political issue, no matter how narrow the scope of that resource or how small the community affected by it.

    Governance is the way society as a whole manages the full array of its political, economic, and social affairs. By shaping the incentives facing individuals and local communities, governance either facilitates or hinders economic development. If the overall governance structure reinforces the capability of local groups to deal with their own problems, then user groups have an incentive to manage their own common-pool resources wisely. Under these circumstances, development is likely to be sustainable. Conversely, if local rules are routinely superceded by the policies of higher authorities, then it will be much more difficult to restrain individual appropriators from engaging in opportunistic behavior. In those circumstances, any effort to develop the national economy as a whole will rest on shaky foundations at the local level.

    Over the past few decades, scholars associated with the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University have studied how CPR user groups in many parts of the world have managed a diverse array of common-pool resources. This volume includes several of these empirical studies, supplemented by a few papers on alternative forms of constitutional order. In this introduction, I explain why analyses of local patterns of resource management can have profound implications for broader issues of development and governance.

    The basic lesson of the interrelated research programs conducted by Workshop scholars is that community efforts to manage common-pool resources work best in the context of polycentric governance. A political order is polycentric when there exist many overlapping arenas (or centers) of authority and responsibility. These arenas exist at all scales, from local community groups to national governments to the informal arrangements for governance at the global level.

    Although originally developed to characterize the nature of governance in metropolitan areas in the United States (Ostrom, Tiebout, and Warren, 1961), polycentricity is a general concept that encapsulates a distinctive way of looking at political, economic, and social order (McGinnis, 1999a,b; V. Ostrom, 1997). A sharp contrast is drawn against the standard view of sovereignty as connoting a single source of political power and authority that has exclusive responsibility for determining public policy. The responsibility for development policy, for example, is typically taken to fall within the exclusive purview of national governments or, increasingly, international funding agencies.

    Contributors to this volume adopt a different viewpoint. Development must occur at all scales simultaneously, with input from individuals and local communities welcomed at all levels of political interaction. This concern for the "nesting" of local arrangements within the overarching political, economic, and cultural order is distinctive. Many development policy analysts focus on what happens at the national level, especially political developments in national capitals. Workshop scholars agree these activities are important, but primarily for their effects on shaping or constraining the ability of local communities to address their own problems. Free elections may help end a tradition of single-party rule, but serious dangers may arise if elections degenerate into shouting matches dominated by ideologies, ethnic hatreds, or other forms of political symbolism. Similarly, if all community groups are prepared to do is to lobby the government for special privileges or assistance, then the mere existence of civil society may not contribute much toward the solution of practical problems. Only polycentric governance can nurture and sustain the self-governing capabilities of local communities.

    Some collective efforts to manage common-pool resources fail. A tragedy of the commons (Hardin 1968) occurs when individual appropriators selfishly extract excessive levels from a CPR and thereby undermine the long-term sustainability of that resource. Instances of overuse and destruction of common-pool resources have been well documented, but in other cases local users have effectively managed resources over long periods (Ostrom, 1990; Ostrom, Gardner, and Walker, 1994).

    In one sense this observation is hardly surprising. If no communities of fishers or farmers had found a way to cope with practical problems of collective action, then none of them would be around today for us to study. In another sense, this observation is revolutionary, for the ability of local groups to manage their own resources effectively is often overlooked by policy analysts. To an unfortunate extent, the standard literature on development policy fixates on markets and states. By treating privatization and centralized state control as the primary means of responding to problems of CPR management, policy analysts overlook the many alternative institutional arrangements designed and implemented by self-governing communities throughout the world.

    An implicit theme in the development policy literature is that if people in the developing world want to emulate the successes of advanced industrial society, then they need to learn how to make efficient use of their physical, human, and institutional resources. But the processes of learning need not be unidirectional. Communities in the developing world can contribute important insights to a developed world that is just beginning to confront severe problems of resource depletion.

    Workshop scholars have implemented research programs on the institutional foundations of self-governance in widely scattered locales throughout the world. The diversity of these institutional arrangements can be initially overwhelming, but the readings included in this book develop a means of understanding the factors shared in common by successful efforts. This community of scholars has developed methods of institutional analysis (McGinnis, 1999a,b) that help observers understand the ways in which local communities manage those resources that are most important to their own survival or prosperity.

    The first section of this introduction outlines the theoretical framework that has emerged from the collaborative activities of Workshop scholars. This framework draws an explicit connection between micro-level processes of resource management and macro-level structures of constitutional order. The remaining four sections of this introduction provide summaries of the journal articles and book chapters reprinted in this volume. The papers in Part I are arranged chronologically, to illustrate the historical development of the Workshop research program on common-pool resources. Part II shifts to a thematic focus, by specifying alternative forms of constitutional order and illustrating each form with examples from Africa. Papers in Part III use examples from several countries to illustrate the importance of informal institutions and local associations on the prospects for sustainable development. These papers use analytical concepts developed by Workshop scholars, in particular the idea that development needs to be seen as a process of "coproduction" in which local residents take a fully active role. Finally, the volume concludes with two papers in Part IV that highlight the creative nature of the process of institutional design and analysis. The deep philosophical issues raised there have direct and practical consequences, for those policy analysts who restrict their advice to the state-market dichotomy threaten to undermine the very basis for self-governance.

    Some readers may be discomforted by the frequent changes in scale and mode of analysis in this book, but Workshop scholars have grown accustomed to juxtaposition of highly detailed, empirical analyses of irrigation systems with broad-ranging, philosophical investigations of alternative forms of constitutional order. Movement up and down levels of aggregation, and movement across standard disciplinary boundaries, is essential if we are to understand the human capacity for self-governance. In short, local self-governance is sustainable only if macro-level political, economic, cultural, and epistemic orders support these practices.

    Institutions for Resource Management, Development, and Governance

    In polycentric governance, the efforts of user groups to manage common-pool resources are granted the same status as individual or corporate rights to private property. Just as individuals are presumed to be the best judge of their own tastes, user groups should be presumed to be capable of managing their common property. A basic tenet of public policy should be that those groups who are able to manage CPRs effectively should be allowed to do so, if at all possible. In this view, government intervention should be limited to two sets of circumstances: (1) when user groups fail to manage their resources effectively, or (2) if user groups violate basic standards of fairness, accountability, or other issues of concern to society as a whole. Instead of presuming that governmental officials or scientific experts know best how to manage CPRs, user groups should be given the benefit of the doubt, and encouraged to govern their own affairs.

    The Workshop approach to institutional analysis complements well-known results from the literature on "new institutional economics" concerning the importance of property rights. Influential research by Douglass North (1981, 1990; North and Thomas, 1973) has demonstrated that a clear definition of private property rights is essential before market processes can operate at anywhere near efficient levels. Economic growth requires investor confidence, because individuals or private corporations will make investments to improve the productive capacity of their assets only if they can expect to enjoy the benefits of these investments. Rarely, however, is this conclusion extended to a clarification of property rights over commonly held assets, including the common-pool resources that are the subject of most of the research included in this volume (see also Ostrom, 1998).

    This analogy between group and private property rights is very close. Those groups of resource users who have successfully managed their common resources have done so at the cost of establishing and enforcing rules that call for significant sacrifices on the part of individual members of that group. They are unlikely to continue to pay those costs if governmental officials are expected to establish or enforce a different set of rules. Without this assurance, group cooperation will break down, and individuals may succumb to the temptations to overexploit the resource. The resulting destruction of the resource will hurt society as a whole. By the same line of argument, then, group rights to common-pool resources need to be just as well-protected as are individual (or corporate) rights to private property.

    Protection of group rights is particularly crucial if the policy goal is sustainable development, and not just economic growth per se. Resource sustainability is not a new idea: groups of fishers, farmers, and herders throughout the world have always had to cope with sustainability problems. Governmental officials and policy analysts should remain open to the possibility that they can learn from user groups about the conditions for successful resource management.

    The macro-level structure of governance directly impacts the prospects for successful user group management of common-pool resources. Yet, even a detailed picture of the institutional arrangements at all scales of aggregation would not suffice. Workshop scholars have long realized the importance of considering the physical nature of the good, the attributes of the community, and the institutional rules-in-use within that community as they cope with those physical problems. This three-fold structure has been summarized in the Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) framework. Kiser and Ostrom (1982; reprinted in McGinnis, 1999b) provide the most extensive discussion of the rationale behind this framework, and Oakerson (1992) uses this framework to organize an extended set of case studies sponsored by the Research Committee of the National Research Council. Because this framework has been discussed in great detail in several sources, only a brief overview is necessary here. Figure 1 (Ostrom, Gardner, and Walker, 1994: 47) illustrates this framework.

    Figure 1. Linking levels of analysis

    The IAD framework differentiates among operational, collective choice, and constitutional levels (or arenas) of interaction. At the operational level, concrete actions are undertaken by those individuals most directly affected or by public officials. These actions directly impact the world in some demonstrable manner, resulting in observable policy outcomes. (In Figure 1, dashed lines with arrows denote feedback from outcomes to all the steps in the process.) The rules that define and constrain the activities of individual citizens and officials in operational arenas have been established at the collective-choice level. The rules by which these rules themselves are subject to modification are determined at the constitutional level of analysis.

    At each level, individual and collective choice is constrained to some range of strategic options. The point of this demarcation of levels is to highlight some fundamental similarities among political processes at different levels of analysis. At each level, actors confront an action situation with strategic options and role expectations as defined at higher levels, and the choices of actors at one level jointly produce patterns of interactions and outcomes.

    In short, institutions link levels by defining the roles that individual or collective actors fulfill. Clearly, all three levels of interactions are involved in any one particular process. Analysts of development or governance must take factors and processes at all three levels into account, for interactions at the operational, collective choice, and constitutional levels are going on concurrently. In normal circumstances, foundational constitutional questions are not in doubt for routine operational decisions. Yet, this level cannot be entirely ignored, since it determines who has the capability or the responsibility to participate in collective choice and operational decisions.

    Furthermore, in many empirical settings these analytical arenas cannot be so clearly demarcated. Consider the activities undertaken by a small group of fishers deciding how to allocate rights to fishing locations. Participants may be simultaneously considering who should be allowed to fish and the quality of the spots to be allocated to each participant. Still, this analytical distinction remains a valuable aid to understanding.

    This concern for embedding operational decisions within broader institutional settings, and local studies within larger constitutional orders, is reflected in the organization of this set of readings. Taken as a whole, the research programs of Workshop scholars cover the full spectrum of scales from "nano-level" studies of local irrigation systems to the large-scale organization of the global economy. However, any one research project is, for obvious reasons, focused on a more restricted range. This collection of readings is designed to illustrate how all the pieces fit together, and to suggest connections among multiple levels and modes of analysis that can inspire even more research.

    Part I. Resource Management

    Papers in Part I show how Workshop research programs on common-pool resource management developed over the span of the last five decades. Although this research program now encompasses research sites dispersed throughout the world, it began close to home. While a Ph.D. student at UCLA and a junior faculty member at the Universities of Wyoming and Oregon, Vincent Ostrom (1953b,c) began his studies of political institutions and the physical nature of water resources in the American West. When Elinor Ostrom completed her Ph.D. dissertation (1965), also at UCLA, her topic was groundwater management in California. Shortly after the Ostroms moved to Indiana University, the Workshop was established to coordinate collaborate research projects on policing in nearby Indianapolis (and related subjects). Clearly, the importance of local knowledge was recognized from the very start.

    The origins of the Workshop approach to institutional analysis can be illustrated with a brief discussion of a paper not included in this volume. In "State Administration of Natural Resources in the West," Vincent Ostrom (1953a) surveys the legal underpinnings of the role of American states in natural resource management. Although the details of his presentation are now dated, it is fascinating to see how the overall structure of the Workshop approach was presaged in this article, published twenty years before its establishment. In the opening paragraphs, V. Ostrom directs attention to the imperatives imposed by the physical nature of the good, i.e., the characteristics of the physical and climatic environment of the American West. The second paragraph bears quoting in its entirety:

    American institutional arrangements, sustenance patterns and resource policies were conceived in humid England and developed in the humid regions of the United States. However, the general aridity of the West stands in marked contrast to the humidity that prevailed in the physical environment where American social institutions and traditions were formed. This alteration of the physical environment has caused an important shift in the balance of human ecology requiring significant modification in institutional arrangements and social policy, especially in regard to the control and development of natural resources. (V. Ostrom, 1953a: 478)

    He argues that state jurisdictions bear little relationship to natural water management zones, and that institutional arrangements must be selected that are consistent with this physical reality.

    As units of government, the states were not conceived in terms that are relevant to resources administration. Only California constitutes an adequate hydrologic unit permitting multiple-purpose administration of an integral watershed area. Major land-use patterns transcend state boundaries and cause the states to determine the nature of their resource programs by a standard of competitive relationships with each other.

    The states as constitutional units within the American federal system of government are inclined to conceive of their relationships with one another and, to some extent, with the federal government on the basis of concepts of sovereignty and states' rights which presume inherent authority and power to decide.... Yet the major problems of resource administration require regional solutions that transcend state boundaries. (V. Ostrom, 1953a: 492)

    This concern for matching institutions to the physical environment (and to the characteristics of the community) lies at the heart of the IAD framework later developed at the Workshop. Although he discusses the relevant legal context, he places much more emphasis on whether legal rules are in fact consistent with the likely behavior of the relevant actors, that is, with the rules-in-use. This theme recurs throughout the corpus of Workshop research programs.

    In this article, Vincent Ostrom pays particular attention to the nature of the property rights in natural resources. He doubts that state governments have the institutional capacity to deal with natural resource issues that transcend the limits of any state's legal jurisdiction. These issues were of more than passing, theoretical interest. In subsequent years, he evaluated resource problems in the transition to statehood in Hawaii, and he helped craft the natural resource article of the Alaskan state constitution.

    The first selection included in this volume is taken from a popular magazine published in 1967. In "Water & Politics California Style" [chapter 1], Vincent Ostrom briefly summarizes the historical process by which water rights and resource management patterns were first established in California. He points to the important precedents established when miners simply grabbed all the water they needed for their mining operations. Eventually, the interests of many other segments of the community were integrated into cooperative arrangements of various kinds. This accessible overview should help ease the reader into the more abstract analyses to follow.

    In "Legal and Political Conditions of Water Resource Development" [chapter 2], Vincent and Elinor Ostrom provide more detail about the specific actors involved in the West Basin area around Los Angeles. After a brief overview of the technical, economic, and legal context, the authors summarize the results of Elinor Ostrom's doctoral dissertation on the role of public entrepreneurs in devising groundwater institutions in southern California (E. Ostrom, 1965). In this work, Elinor Ostrom concluded that the use of equity proceedings in state courts facilitated the negotiation of complex patterns of interagency arrangements to prevent saltwater erosion from the ocean and to assure the replenishment of groundwater supplies. Through in-depth interviews, archival research, and nonparticipant observation, Elinor Ostrom determined that one factor crucial to this success was the existence of institutional arrangements at the state level that authorized local associations, special districts, and public and private agencies to deal with these problems. Also, effective conflict mechanisms were made available to reach consensual arrangements that secured clear property rights.

    Since the next reading in this part was published ten years after the initial establishment of the Workshop in 1973, a brief digression on the intervening years seems in order. Despite their initial interest in natural resources and groundwater management, the first large-scale empirical research program of the Workshop dealt with police services in urban America (McGinnis, 1999b). Upon their arrival in Bloomington, the Ostroms were intrigued by a long-standing political debate over metropolitan organization that had just come to a head. In 1969, city and county governments in the Indianapolis metropolitan area were consolidated into a single government, called "Unigov." However, this consolidation was incomplete, in the sense that a few suburban municipalities elected to remain outside this new arrangement. Thus, these social scientists had a unique opportunity to compare the production of public goods and services by large and small agencies serving consolidated and nonconsolidated communities that were virtually identical in all other ways.

    In a long series of related research projects, the Ostroms and their faculty and student colleagues demonstrated that citizens were more satisfied with the performance of smaller or intermediate sized police forces (see McGinnis, 1999b). However, larger-scale operations remained an important aspect of this success, especially for training and crime lab facilities. In short, these research programs demonstrated the benefits of polycentric governance in metropolitan America.

    When they returned to the study of the management of natural resources, the Ostroms brought with them a renewed appreciation of the myriad advantages of allowing self-governing communities to address their own collective problems in the way they saw most fit. It is safe to say that they decided to study police not because of an inherent interest in the subject, but because it was a good vehicle to explore theoretical ideas.

    On its own terms, this research program on metropolitan governance has been (and still is) very successful (McGinnis, 1999b). For purposes of the present volume, it is important to recognize the methodological legacy of those studies: a unique combination of insistence on scientific rigor and policy relevance, openness to multiple techniques of empirical and formal analysis, and sensitivity to nested levels of analysis. The early Workshop research programs demonstrated that public services can be most efficiently provided under a system of multiple and overlapping jurisdictions, by enabling producers of public services to operate at the scale most efficient for particular activities. These empirical results were consistent with the nature of the American constitutional order, as originally envisioned by the Founders (V. Ostrom, 1987). As they began to examine problems of resource development in more detail, Workshop scholars began to find that polycentric governance was equally effective for empirical settings that could not be further removed from metropolitan centers in the United States, namely, some of the poorest regions of the developing world.

    In many ways, common-pool resources turned out to be a more effective focus for empirical explorations of these theoretical concerns. Anyone evaluating police performance in urban areas can scarcely avoid emotion-laden controversies over race relations and welfare policy. Also, one prominent issue concerns the appropriate role for the national government in the fight against urban blight. Not only does the management of fisheries, irrigation systems, and most common-pool resources occupy a lower level of salience, but, in many cases, these resources are physically remote from urban centers or national capitals. In these more isolated communities, it is easier to identify the reasons why some communities manage to solve their own problems while other communities flounder or fail.

    Whereas urban politics evoke ideological statements more easily than rigorous analyses, policy analysts often adopt a problem-solving attitude toward CPR management. Ideologically-tinged debates certainly occur between advocates of privatization and centralized management, especially when treated in the abstract. Still, resource management issues lie at the far periphery of most political scientists' range of interests. Thus, for many common-pool resources, it is possible to maintain a focus on practical problems of a manageable scope.

    None of this means that CPR management is unimportant. For those whose lives or livelihoods depend on the continued availability of plentiful water or fish stocks, nothing could be more important. Politics is surely involved, but rarely in the form of noisy confrontations between competing ideologies. This latter form of political interaction would most likely result in confusion and destruction.

    In recent years, issues of the environment and resource management have gained a new urgency in political debates. Global environmental issues, in particular, have emerged as an important new topic of political contention. Unfortunately, global environmental debates often degenerate into ideological confrontations, far removed from the physical realities they are supposedly meant to address (see McGinnis and Ostrom, 1996).

    Many years before sustainable development became a ubiquitous slogan, Workshop scholars were already seeking to understand the conditions under which resources can be managed in a sustainable manner. Now that the world of national and international politics has caught up with the Workshop, it has important insights to offer. As shown in this volume, long-standing and ongoing research programs on the management of common-pool resources have given us a clearer understanding of the requisites for the successful implementation and sustenance of self-governance.

    In "Institutional Capacity and the Resolution of a Commons Dilemma" [chapter 3], Elinor Ostrom, in collaboration with William Blomquist, returned to the issues of groundwater management with which she began her career. Blomquist went on in his own book, Dividing the Waters (1992), to compare the institutional arrangements for eight groundwater basins, including one that Elinor Ostrom had examined in depth three decades earlier. Another of his cases had been the focus of Weschler (1968), a dissertation completed by one of Elinor Ostrom's fellow graduate students at UCLA. Comparisons between these two periods are made more explicitly in Blomquist's contribution to E. Ostrom, Gardner, and Walker (1994). Revisiting the sites of earlier research has become a Workshop tradition, one that, if continued over the next few decades, will enable analysts to make valid inferences based on comparison of the same area across multiple time periods.

    This 1985 article presages the underlying principles of the design of successful common-pool resource regimes that Elinor Ostrom summarizes in her widely-read and influential book Governing the Commons (1990). Her list of eight design principles is probably the most widely-cited aspect of that path-breaking book. At the time of the publication of her article with William Blomquist, these principles had not yet taken their final form. However, the way in which these two authors go through the many informational and other requirements that would have to be satisfied for the successful operation of a market-based resource management scheme should help readers understand how Elinor Ostrom eventually came up with her famous list. She didn't yet have the answer, but she was already asking the right questions.

    In her Presidential Address to the International Association for the Study of Common Property, "Design Principles in Long-Enduring Irrigation Institutions" [chapter 4], Elinor Ostrom succinctly states the design principles that encapsulate her extensive comparisons of institutional arrangements in mountain meadows and forests in Switzerland and Japan, irrigation systems in Spain and the Philippines, fisheries in Sri Lanka and Turkey, and groundwater management in California. These design principles have been discussed by a vast array of scholars in diverse areas of study. For example, McGinnis and Ostrom (1996) and the contributors to Keohane and Ostrom (1995) discuss the potential relevance of these design principles to global governance.

    Ostrom concludes that all of the successful, long-lasting cases of CPR management included some mechanism for monitoring and sanctioning the behavior of participants in that community. This finding implies that self-governance requires more than a simple agreement to cooperate. Instead, some means must be found to ensure the continuation of cooperative behavior in the face of individual incentives to take advantage of the situation for personal gain. Communities of common understanding can support appropriate monitoring arrangements that help encourage individuals to use these resources in a fair and equitable manner. Self-governance cannot eliminate opportunistic behavior entirely, but it can limit its negative effects.

    Ostrom's book synthesizes the results of a vast array of case studies, several of which were still underway at that time. The Workshop has published extensive bibliographies on CPR research (Martin, 1989/1992; Hess, 1996). Also, reference sources are regularly updated on the Workshop's web page, at The range of empirical cases of common-pool resource regimes studied by scholars associated with the Workshop is far too diverse to cover here. This part concludes with two articles that exemplify development of this research program in recent years.

    In "Property-Rights Regimes and Coastal Fisheries: An Empirical Analysis" [chapter 5], Edella Schlager and Elinor Ostrom examine the nature of property rights in fisheries. After laying out the general properties of any property-rights system, they detail the combinations of rules that different groups of fishers have used to satisfy the design principles defined in the previous reading. Their analysis of the legal components of the system of rules that define property rights builds on basic distinctions laid out in the earlier articles also included in this part of this volume. Clearly, many conceptual advances were made as these research programs progressed.

    The authors use a comprehensive data set on the physical and institutional characteristics of a set of coastal fisheries to draw conclusions about the determinants of long-term success or failure in the management of this common-pool resource. They conclude that in-shore fisheries characterized by some, but not all, of the attributes of private property are more effective means of governing local fisheries.

    In "Mobile Flows, Storage, and Self-Organized Institutions for Governing Common-Pool Resources" [chapter 6], Edella Schlager, William Blomquist, and Shui Yan Tang shift the focus to a particular characteristic of common-pool resources, namely, the extent to which that resource can be stored for later use. Their comparative analysis of irrigation systems, fisheries, and groundwater basins is based on the application of similar data coding forms to the physical and institutional characteristics of these very different resources. They present a useful taxonomy of different types of CPR problems, and conclude that the same solution cannot be expected to apply to all kinds of common-pool resources.

    As discussed earlier, a major goal of institutional analysis has been to break apart the state-market dichotomy that so dominates policy debates. Workshop scholars have clearly demonstrated the effectiveness of alternative institutional forms for the management of common-pool resources. Just as neither markets nor centralized management are appropriate in all circumstances, no single institutional arrangement can work for the full range of common-pool resource problems.

    In recent years, many Workshop scholars have begun to study resources governed by multiple user groups. In the International Forestry Resources and Institutions (IFRI) Research Program, the IAD framework and multiple modes of empirical analysis are applied to many different uses of forest resources: timber, fuel, food, water, mining, and tourism. With the support of U.N., U.S., and private funding agencies, scholars associated with IFRI have developed and field-tested a rigorous method of measuring the characteristics of resource use and institutions for the management of forested areas (Thomson, 1992). The first fruits of this research program have just been brought together into a book containing research reports from Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Nepal, Uganda, and the United States, all using the same set of methods (Gibson, McKean, and Ostrom, forthcoming). The central goal of this project is to understand what combinations of institutional arrangements are most likely to allow sustainable development of forestry resources. Again, rigorous comparison lies at the heart of the method, as the coding form generated for this project includes measures of more than a hundred variables on the physical, economic, and institutional characteristics of specific forested regions. Furthermore, the data and analytical conclusions from the IFRI project are made freely available to local communities, for use in their own development projects. This spirit of collaboration with the communities they study is a long-standing Workshop tradition.

    The IFRI project is now associated with an even more comprehensive project. Elinor Ostrom and Emilio Moran, an anthropologist, serve as co-directors of the Center for the Study of Institutions, Population, and Environmental Change (CIPEC) at Indiana University. This collaborative undertaking by the Workshop and three other research centers in anthropology, demography, and environmental science is funded by the National Science Foundation as part of its major program on global environmental change. CIPEC research programs combine state-of-the-art satellite positioning and imagery systems with a variety of field methods based on rigorous sampling techniques. In this way, CIPEC scholars increase the rigor of empirical analyses of environmental conditions and institutions specifically related to the management of forests throughout the Western Hemisphere. The work of this center has only just begun, but it promises to make a major contribution to these important areas of research and policy.

    Part II. Constitutional Order

    This brief overview of forestry and global environmental change research programs leads naturally to consideration of the ways in which Workshop scholars approach the study of macro-level political and economic orders. One hallmark of the Workshop has been a sustained effort to integrate factors operating at different scales of aggregation. Detailed examinations of small-scale common-pool resource regimes are undertaken with an eye toward the implications such analysis might have for issues of development and governance. Of particular relevance are conditions conducive to the establishment and maintenance of the local capacities for self-governance and sustainable development. Both the big picture and the details need to be understood.

    For example, McGinnis and Ostrom (1996) argue that the same principles of design that make it possible for local communities to manage common-pool resources may also apply to efforts to manage global environmental change. However, this analogy between local and global commons is not exact (Keohane and Ostrom, 1995). The benefits of person-to-person interaction in the management of common-pool resources at the local level, for example, cannot be duplicated at the global level. Gibson, Ostrom, and Ahn (1998) investigate the extent to which behavioral regularities identified at one level can be "scaled up" for application to higher levels of aggregation. They conclude that some extensions are defensible, but caution must be taken against overgeneralization. One principle that does scale up is that both monitoring and sanctioning remain critical for the implementation of international agreements to protect the environment.

    Even if different sets of design principles turn out to be most relevant for different levels of aggregation, it is still important to assure that institutional arrangements at different levels reinforce each other rather than working at cross-principles. Elinor Ostrom's list of design principles (see chapter 4) recognizes the importance of the ways in which local rules are "nested" within the context of higher level patterns of governance. For if groups are not given at least a minimal right to organize, then resource management schemes may not be grounded in locally generated knowledge. Elsewhere, Oakerson and Walker (1997) argue that nesting is essential to any meaningful reform of institutional arrangements on the macro level. This concern for nesting is the glue that ties micro-level analyses of resource management to macro-level development policy.

    The readings in Part II move the locus of analysis to macro-level concerns about constitutional choice. No matter how closely one scales up the same principles or insists on a consistent nesting of principles at different levels, there is no reason to require institutional analysts to apply the same mode of analysis at all scales of aggregation. As shown in the readings in this part, institutional analysis at the macro-level takes on a more philosophical tenor. No longer is there as much direct concern for the nature of physical goods; instead, focus shifts to efforts to comprehend the overall implications of how a society organizes itself, at the most fundamental level. A certain level of abstraction is required, but these abstractions should not become fodder for vacuous debates over ideological slogans. It may be a different mode of analysis, but the same normative and analytical approach underlies applications at all levels.

    In "A Forgotten Tradition: The Constitutional Level of Analysis" [chapter 7], Vincent Ostrom argues that it is important to understand the overall context within which specific policy debates take place, because constitutional order can either support or undermine the foundations for self-governance. Vincent Ostrom has written a series of books (1987, 1989, 1991, 1997) that each, in different ways, offer polycentricity as an alternative to standard notions of sovereignty. Under unitary sovereignty, the government can impose a uniform set of laws that do not take account of local variation in physical conditions. Under polycentricity, different physical realities would be reflected in the rules designed by the affected communities. Diverse sets of local rules set the stage for conflict among alternative world-views and rule systems, but this conflict can be constructive rather than destructive. Indeed, contestation lies at the very heart of polycentricity.

    In this article, Vincent Ostrom contrasts the model of polycentric governance in The Federalist with a paternalistic vision of public administration closely associated with Woodrow Wilson. For Wilson and other reform-minded politicians and policy analysts, the role of government is to produce public goods in the most efficient manner, as determined by expert opinion. Public opinion plays a role in selecting leaders and setting general guidelines, but beyond that the public is a passive recipient of government policies.

    In polycentric governance, political authorities should act to support the capacity of self-governance for groups and communities at all levels of aggregation. Within such a constitutional order, individuals form corporations to produce private goods and join myriad associations to produce public goods and manage common-pool resources. Governmental authorities at all levels play important roles, all of which are supportive in nature. Just as they are expected to provide a stable legal foundation for the smooth operation of economic markets, public officials should also devote themselves to nurturing group capacities for self-governance. Generally, government officials should concentrate on the provision of public goods and services, but they need not be directly involved in the production of that good. (The distinction between provision and production is detailed in Ostrom, Tiebout, and Warren, 1961; McGinnis, 1999b.)

    Perhaps the most important role of government in a polycentric order is to help local jurisdictions resolve their conflicts of interest in a way that remains consistent with societal standards of fairness. If a CPR user group unfairly restricts access to their resources to a very small group of people who benefit materially from that restriction, then higher political authorities should act to open up the process to broader participation. In other words, public authorities should act to prevent self-governing communities from taking unfair advantage of their ability to coordinate their actions.

    Unfortunately, under paternalistic governance, the government itself can become a form of private property. For if sovereignty is assumed to reside in a single center of power, then politics becomes a simple question of determining who wields that power or who "owns" that office. Once the ability to impose laws and regulations becomes a source of revenue for public officials, great importance is attached to winning power and remaining in office. If elections degenerate to a competition among self-interested agents seeking to access the levers of sovereign power, then even a liberal democratic order can become a form of tyranny.

    The danger inherent in paternalistic governance can be illustrated by an admittedly loose analogy to problems of common-pool resource management. To some extent, a government's budget, or a nation's entire resource base, can be thought of as a common-pool resource. These resources can be used efficiently, in ways that enhance social welfare, or they can be captured by small groups to satisfy their own narrow interests. The same concern for opportunism that permeates institutional analysis of a CPR user group becomes translated into concerns for predatory behavior by governmental authorities. If too many public officials act too selfishly, then society as a whole can suffer grave consequences.

    As discussed above, monitoring and sanctioning are essential activities to effective CPR management. How are governmental authorities to be deterred from engaging in excessive opportunism? This is the key question of governance.

    The problems in autocratic political orders are even more extreme. In "Cryptoimperialism, Predatory States, and Self-Governance" [chapter 8], Vincent Ostrom argues that Hobbes's Leviathan remains an important influence on contemporary events. Hobbes's vision of a single, overwhelming source of power remains a strong inspiration for rulers in many countries. In particular, Ostrom shows that Lenin's writings contain an especially pure distillation of the logic of Hobbesian sovereignty.

    The main point of this paper is to draw attention to a more subtle influence of Hobbes on today's world. Vincent Ostrom introduces the term cryptoimperialism to designate the insidious phenomenon by which the rulers of developing countries are influenced by the ideas of the foreign donors upon which they have come to depend so heavily. Since the most influential individuals in governments on both sides of the Cold War, and in international lending institutions, see the paternalistic form of government as natural, this attitude is naturally passed on to their clients. The consequence is a natural tendency toward the establishment of "predatory states" in many parts of the world. Although military force and vast disparities in economic power play obvious roles in maintaining new forms of imperialism, a more subtle prop is the widespread habit of thinking in terms of Hobbesian sovereignty.

    Contemporary problems of governance have deep historical roots. In The Emergence of Autocracy in Liberia: Tragedy and Challenge (1992), Amos Sawyer, a former President of Liberia, concurs with Vincent Ostrom's concerns about the dangers of crypto-imperialism. This book, completed while Sawyer was a visiting scholar at the Workshop, documents how a community of freed slaves ironically came to establish a constitutional order that concentrated power in a single position, the President. The tragic civil wars his country experienced in recent years are a direct consequence of the widespread acceptance of this conceptualization of governance as domination.

    Sawyer's book is one of several books in which the Workshop approach to the study of governance has been applied to a remarkably diverse set of political regimes. Subjects include constitutional order in Communist regimes (Kaminski, 1989, 1992), Imperial Russia (Obolonsky, 1996), Imperial China (Yang, 1987), and military regimes in Latin America (Loveman, 1993). The same principles have been applied in shorter works on other parts of Africa (Duany, 1992, 1994; Jinadu, 1994). Contributors to Wunsch and Olowu (1995) survey the vast array of problems that can be attributed to the general adoption of the centralized, Hobbesian state throughout post-colonial Africa. In each of these works, the authors have been deeply influenced by the work of Vincent Ostrom.

    A related line of research on the nature of governance in Africa has been most closely associated with Robert Bates, whose relationship with the Workshop has been primarily through his doctoral students: Arun Agrawal, Kathryn Firmin-Sellers, and Clark Gibson. Bates (1981, 1983) portrays most post-colonial African regimes as disassociated from their own people. To the extent that these regimes are sustained by foreign aid, the rulers are absolved of any need to provide a full range of public services for their own people. Quite to the contrary, their interests lie in appropriating as many resources as they can for their own personal wealth. At best, they will spread these resources to just enough groups for them to stay in power. Given this proprietary attitude towards government office, it is hardly surprising that the record of African development has been so woeful.

    In the next selection, "The Concentration of Authority: Constitutional Creation in the Gold Coast, 1950" [chapter 9], Kathryn Firmin-Sellers shows the process of constitutional choice in action. She shows how the relevant actors were willing to set up a centralized political order because each thought they had a good chance to dominate the system once it was in place. Her interpretation of these events draws on concepts and analytical tools developed in the field of research known as the new institutional economics, especially Knight's (1992) contention that distributional consequences are the most important determinants of institutional change.

    The single most important lesson of these analyses of macro-level constitutional order is that national governments can either support and enhance the self-governing capacities of local communities or else they can undermine local capacities by adopting a predatory attitude. In practice, nearly all governments do a little bit of both. Some groups are granted the right to manage their own affairs or to protect their own resources from the encroachments of other groups. Meanwhile, the resources controlled by other groups serve as the target of expropriation. This article by Kathryn Firmin-Sellers reminds us that constitution making is an inherently political process, in which some groups gain at the expense of others. Similarly destructive conflicts can occur in the operational and collective-choice arenas of interactions whenever participants (and policy analysts) forget that the essential purpose of government is to help peoples solve their problems rather than to select winners and losers. This problem-solving attitude is difficult to sustain given the competitive thrust of much political interaction and policy analysis.

    E. Ostrom (1998) notes that strong conceptualizations sometimes make it hard for analysts to even acknowledge the existence of certain kinds of organizations. In "Local Organizations and Development: The African Experience" [chapter 10], Dele Olowu, a Nigerian scholar who has made extended visits to the Workshop, demonstrates that local forms of self-governance are alive and well in many parts of Africa. These organizations tend to be overlooked, however, because they do not fit into the standard categories of state, market, or civil society.

    One of the more subtle problems concerns the ways in which policies of decentralization have been applied in several African countries. On the face of it, decentralization seems congruent with calls for self-governance, but in practice all that has changed is the locus of public decision making. Just because a governmental unit is smaller in scope does not necessarily mean that the people are going to be involved in governing their own affairs. Dele Olowu discusses several examples that illustrate the subtle, yet fundamental, differences between decentralized administration and genuine self-governance.

    Finally, Dele Olowu concludes that the findings from the studies of metropolitan governance undertaken at the Workshop (discussed above) could be fruitfully applied in the African context. He points to the existence of long-standing traditions of local resource management regimes, while still recognizing the problems of sustaining these traditions in the context of the modern, centralized state imported to Africa from the West.

    Part III. Development

    This diagnosis of an overreliance on centralized authority might seem to lead directly to the conclusion that efforts must be undertaken to reform the political order as a whole, to remake society from the ground up. But it is not quite that simple, because Workshop scholars tend to be skeptical of grand plans for reform.

    Vincent Ostrom (1991, 1997) cautions that many "great experiments," such as those undertaken by Marxist-Leninist regimes, result in the "monumental failures" of war, famine, or repression. Utopian ideals of equality provided the groundwork for the terrible costs of totalitarianism in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, China, and elsewhere in the world. Even the high ideals of democratization and national self-determination can result in terrible suffering for the average person, as was clearly shown in the post-Cold War history of the former republics of Yugoslavia.

    The danger of monumental failure does not mean that reform should not be pursued. After all, absence of reform can, in some circumstances, be equally disastrous (see Eggertsson, 1996). Instead, the lesson should be that reform should be undertaken with full acceptance of the limited ability of humans to grasp the full consequences of their actions (see V. Ostrom, 1991, 1997). Rather than try to impose a single utopian ideal on society as a whole, his preferred solution is to design institutions that help local communities help themselves. This attitude leads to a form of policy analysis more concerned with process than with ends. Still, designing open-ended institutions that nurture self-governing capacities should lay a solid foundation for sustainable development. Part III includes several examples of the Workshop approach to the design of development institutions.

    In "Institutional Analysis and Decentralization: Developing an Analytical Framework for Effective Third World Administrative Reform" [chapter 11], James Wunsch reiterates Dele Olowu's concerns that decentralization per se does not guarantee self-governance. Just as the state-market dichotomy is unnecessarily limiting, he argues that a similar fixation on a centralization-decentralization dimension will lead policy analysts to overlook potentially relevant alternative institutions. After explaining the implications of all of the major components of institutional analysis in the context of African development, Wunsch uses these methods to explain the general failings of the centralized, administrative state in much of Africa. Wunsch offers suggestions for training future administrators to be more creative and open-ended in their consideration of alternative options. Wunsch also highlights conceptual similarities between the problems of development and the results of previous Workshop research on police service provision in metropolitan areas in the United States (McGinnis, 1999b).

    The crucial issue is not the degree of centralization but the configuration of incentives that motivate individual and collective actions. The next paper explicitly compares alternative institutional arrangements for the governance of irrigation systems. In "Improving the Performance of Small-Scale Irrigation Systems: The Effects of Technological Investments and Governance Structure on Irrigation Performance in Nepal" [chapter 12], Wai Fung (Danny) Lam demonstrates that irrigation systems built and managed by the central government or international financial lending institutions tend to be less long-lasting or effective than irrigation systems built and maintained by local farmers. This difference holds even when the government-funded systems are much larger and technologically more sophisticated.

    The explanation of this puzzle is simple. Even the latest technology cannot survive without regular maintenance, and the incentives have to be right if local participants are going to exert the effort needed to maintain an irrigation system. Lam examines the problems raised by asymmetries between "headenders" and "tailenders," that is, between farmers whose crops are located close to the headworks of the irrigation system and those who farm areas near the end of the line. As he shows, establishment of sophisticated headworks may exacerbate these asymmetries, and tailenders who benefit little from these improvements may not be willing to help maintain the system as a whole. Conversely, both groups would be motivated to maintain less sophisticated improvements in the lining of the irrigation channels, since their failure to do so could mean that none of them will receive sufficient water. Lam shows that, counter to the expectations of most external observers, farmers can undertake all the maintenance, monitoring, and sanctioning activities needed for many successful irrigation systems.

    This article, if read in isolation, might be misconstrued as supporting an ideological aversion to big government. However, "small is beautiful" is not an appropriate slogan for advocates of polycentric governance. In hopes of belaying any misunderstanding, the next selection, by this same author, shows how governmental officials and local farmers can work together toward the common goal of development.

    In "Institutional Design of Public Agencies and Coproduction: A Study of Irrigation Associations in Taiwan" [chapter 13], Danny Lam argues that an overlooked source of Taiwan's economic success is the autonomy granted local farmers' associations in managing their own irrigation systems. Governmental officials play generally supportive roles, since aspects of Taiwan's bureaucratic structure limit their incentives to engage in predatory behavior. As a consequence, government authorities act primarily to support the conditions under which local arrangements can be implemented.

    Whereas the papers in Part I evaluated the physical properties of a wide array of irrigation systems and other common-pool resource regimes, this paper provides an in-depth analysis of the reasons why local irrigation associations work as institutions. Lam illustrates the ways in which the complementary interests of participants are encapsulated within an effective governance structure. The national governments fulfill several important roles: arbiter of conflicting interests, a source of finance, and "epistemic leader."

    The next selection continues with the case of Taiwan, but moves to an examination of other forms of institutions. When Workshop scholars consider problems of the developing world, they focus on the contributions of informal networks of political and economic entrepreneurs typically overlooked by policy analysts. Although typically denounced as illegal "black markets," individual entrepreneurs rarely have much of a choice in the matter. Under conditions of the widespread government corruption and incompetence typical of predatory states, the "informal sector" can be a most effective alternative to officially recognized transactions. De Soto's book The Other Path (1989) is the most widely known analysis of the "informal sector" in the developing world. Within the community of Workshop scholars, Landa (1994) places special emphasis on trading networks organized around ethnic identifications.

    In "Informal Credit Markets and Economic Development in Taiwan" [chapter 14], Shui-Yan Tang argues that informal credit markets were key to the economic success of Taiwan. One general implication of this analysis is that similar institutional arrangements should be encouraged in other developing countries seeking to emulate Taiwan's economic success. Too often policy analysts fixate on the presence of a secure legal system or the occurrence of regular elections, but Tang's analysis reminds us that development is primarily local in nature.

    This article illustrates an important lesson of Workshop research. Although analysts regularly use terms like "the government" to refer to the actions of particular sets of officials, the reality is much more complex. Any analysis of the operation of governments would show that most (if not all) are themselves organized in a polycentric manner. Despite the presumption that top leaders can command subordinates to carry out particular policies, many difficulties are associated with monitoring the behavior of bureaucratic agents. Also, informal contacts among bureaucratic officials are often crucial to policy implementation. The complexity of the policy implementation process is well-recognized, but the Workshop approach to institutional analysis tries to bring some coherence to our understanding of the interactions that take place in both formal organizations and in more informal settings.

    The term "civil society" is often used very loosely, but these articles by Lam and Tang illustrate how the operation of informal organizations can further the process of development. Another now popular term, "sustainable development," is closely related to the concept of "coproduction" developed nearly two decades ago by Workshop scholars investigating the determinants of the successful provision of police services (see McGinnis, 1999b). In a regular production process, a commodity is produced by one actor and consumed by another. Under a process of coproduction, both must interact to produce the desired result. For example, if police officials and neighborhood residents coordinate their efforts to monitor crime in that neighborhood, then public safety results from a process of coproduction. It's not simply a matter of police supplying their customers with a better product, but rather a consequence of continuing cooperation between police officers and members of the community.

    Several of the readings included in this volume make use of the concept of coproduction. In the final reading in Part III, "Crossing the Great Divide: Coproduction, Synergy, and Development" [chapter 15], Elinor Ostrom discusses the general implications of conceptualizing development as a process of coproduction. Her discussion of specific examples of development from two different continents supports her contention that participation by local communities is a key to the success of sustainable development.

    This article, as well as the earlier articles by Wunsch and Olowu, makes specific reference to specific conclusions from earlier Workshop research programs on public perceptions of policing in metropolitan areas of the United States (McGinnis, 1999b). This convergence demonstrates that the principles of polycentric governance transcend the many obvious differences between rural areas of the developing world and urban America.

    Part IV. Polycentric Governance

    The Workshop approach to development is more fully explicated in a textbook written by Elinor Ostrom, Larry Schroeder, and Susan Wynne (1993). This book places rural infrastructure at the very heart of development issues. E. Ostrom (1992) uses these same principles to guide community "crafting" of institutions for the management of irrigation systems. In Oakerson and Walker (1997), students from two different generations of the Workshop discuss the general implications of Workshop research for the reform of institutions in developing countries. They draw extensively on the IAD framework (Kiser and Ostrom, 1982; Oakerson, 1992; McGinnis, 1999a) to illustrate broader issues of development. Walker (1994) uses this framework to examine the gritty details of fertilizer distribution in Cameroon as an example of institutional analysis applied to a practical policy program.

    In all of these works the authors stress that policy analysts must approach institutional reform in an open and creative fashion, rather than relying on standard categories. However, it is not just the policy analysts who need to adopt a broader frame of reference. A community's common conceptualization of the meaning of development is a crucial factor in their likely success. The final two readings address these matters directly.

    In "Artisanship and Artifact" [chapter 16], Vincent Ostrom reminds institutional analysts that all institutions are social creations, grounded in shared understandings. Just as an individual craftsman or artist must imagine a tool or artwork before he or she can bring that creation to life, communities of individuals cannot govern themselves without some shared set of beliefs and norms, some shared conceptualizations. In an earlier work, Vincent Ostrom (1987; 1st ed. 1971) summarizes the political theory behind the design of the U.S. Constitution. In his more recent work, V. Ostrom (1997) has been concerned about the institutional creations that go on every day, in communities of all sizes. Constitutional order at the macro level is grounded in the conceptualizations and understandings of the ultimate micro-level actor, the individual.

    In the final selection in this volume, Vincent Ostrom sounds a cautionary note. Once self-governance has been achieved, there is no reason to assume that the shared understandings that support self-governance will be automatically maintained. Tocqueville, in particular, was gravely concerned that a tendency toward a leveling equality might eventually undermine the spirit of self-governance by the voluntary associations that he saw as the very foundation of American democracy. In "Problems of Cognition as a Challenge to Policy Analysts and Democratic Societies" [chapter 17], Vincent Ostrom reiterates Tocqueville's concern about the difficulties inherent in intergenerational transmission of the "habits of heart and mind" that support a democratic, self-governing society. He calls on institutional analysts to contribute to the maintenance of self-governance by not allowing their analyses and policy recommendations to be colored by an unthinking adherence to the Hobbesian notion of unitary sovereignty. In this way, scholars can make an important, even essential, contribution to the achievement and sustainability of self-governance.

    In these works, Vincent Ostrom advises institutional analysts to pay careful attention to language. The IAD framework and the terminology of polycentric governance provide, in effect, a "new language" for the study of the new "art and science of association" that Tocqueville saw as the essential foundation of any understanding of democracy. The terms we use to analyze institutions and policies must, ultimately, be consistent with this vision, or else self-governance cannot be sustained.

    The IAD framework (see Figure 1) lays out the magnitude of the task facing institutional analysts. It is no easy matter to match up institutional solutions to the physical realities of the situation, the attributes of the community, and the political relationships defined at the constitutional level. Design and establishment of a polycentric governance structure is not something that can happen overnight. It is not simply a matter of making markets work well, for it is also necessary to facilitate group management of common-pool resources. It is not simply a matter of providing law and order, because communities must be encouraged to take responsibility for their own conditions of life. Public officials must arrange for the provision of public goods, either by producing these goods directly or by contracting with other producers. Citizens need to be self-reliant, yet also willing to work with government officials to solve collective problems. This balance is very difficult to sustain.

    As artisans, institutional analysts need to recognize and appreciate the creative capacity of people to cope with their own collective problems. Rather than relying exclusively on abstract theory to tell us which policy instrument works best in any given situation, policy analysts must familiarize themselves with the diverse array of institutional arrangements that local communities have developed. This book illustrates some of the efforts of this community of scholars to do exactly that, to familiarize themselves with institutions that work.

    Their tendency to focus on local solutions has made Workshop scholars deeply appreciative of the remarkable successes achieved by peoples throughout the developing world. It is appropriate to let the founders of the Workshop have the final word in this introduction to a volume of research reports by scholars personally inspired by their own unstinting efforts. In a guest editorial in the January 1994 issue of Research & Creative Activity (a publication of Indiana University Graduate School), Vincent and Elinor Ostrom succinctly articulate the guiding vision that has united the diverse strands of research undertaken by scholars associated with the Workshop during the first twenty-five years of its existence:

    Once we understood the logic of the use of land and water in paddy agriculture, for example, we came to appreciate the marvel of hillside terraces in Nepal and elsewhere that would justify their being considered among the Wonders of the World. In a contrary way, intelligent people can perversely reduce urban landscapes to rubble. How people think of themselves, structure their relationships with others, and pursue the opportunities that they see as available to them may make the difference between a sustainable and meaningful way of life and one reduced to rubble. Working with others to gain mutual advantage under changing conditions of life requires substantial use of knowledge, moral sensitivity, skills, and intelligence in the exercise of self-organizing and self-governing capabilities.

    REFERENCES (to works not included in this volume)

    Bates, Robert H. 1981. Markets and States in Tropical Africa: The Political Basis of Agricultural Policies. Berkeley: University of California Press.

    _____. 1983. Essays on the Political Economy of Rural Africa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Blomquist, William. 1992. Dividing the Waters: Governing Groundwater in Southern California. San Francisco: ICS Press.

    De Soto, Hernando. 1989. The Other Path: The Invisible Revolution in the Third World. Translated by June Abbott. New York: Harper & Row.

    Duany, Wal. 1992. "The Nuer Concept of Covenant and Covenantal Way of Life." Publius 22(4) (Fall): 67-89.

    _____. 1994. "The Problem of Centralization in the Sudan." Northeast African Studies 1(2-3):75-102.

    Eggertsson, Thráinn. 1990. Economic Behavior and Institutions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    _____. 1996. "No Experiments, Monumental Disasters: Why it Took a Thousand Years to Develop a Specialized Fishing Industry in Iceland." Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 30(1) (July): 1-24.

    Gibson, Clark, Margaret McKean, and Elinor Ostrom, editors. Forthcoming. Forest Resources and Institutions. Cambridge: MIT Press.

    Gibson, Clark, Elinor Ostrom, and T. K. Ahn. 1998. "Scaling Issues in the Social Sciences." Report for the International Human Dimensions Programme (IHDP) on Global Environmental Change, IHDP Working Paper no. 1, Bonn, Germany, May.

    Hardin, Garrett. 1968. "The Tragedy of the Commons." Science 162:1243-48.

    Hess, Charlotte. 1996. Common-Pool Resources and Collective Action: A Bibliography, vol. 3. Bloomington: Indiana University, Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis.

    Hobbes, Thomas 1962. [1651] Leviathan or the Matter, Forme, and Power of a Commonwealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil. Michael Oakeshott, ed. New York: Collier Books.

    Jinadu, L. Adele. 1994. "Federalism and the Structure of the Nigerian Federation: Some Recurrent Issues." The Nigerian Journal of Federalism 1(2) (Dec.): 57-66.

    Kaminski, Antoni. 1989. "Coercion, Corruption, and Reform: State and Society in Soviet-type Socialist Regime." Journal of Theoretical Politics 1(1) (Jan.): 77-102.

    _____. 1992. An Institutional Theory of Communist Regimes: Design, Function, and Breakdown. San Francisco: ICS Press.

    Keohane, Robert O., and Elinor Ostrom, eds. 1995. Local Commons and Global Interdependence: Heterogeneity and Cooperation in Two Domains. London: Sage.

    Kiser, Larry L., and Elinor Ostrom. 1982. "The Three Worlds of Action: A Metatheoretical Synthesis of Institutional Approaches." In Strategies of Political Inquiry, ed. Elinor Ostrom, 179-222. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

    Knight, Jack. 1992. Institutions and Social Conflict. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Lam, Wai Fung. 1998. Governing Irrigation Systems in Nepal: Institutions, Infrastructure, and Collective Action. Oakland, CA: ICS Press.

    Lam, Wai Fung, Myungsuk Lee, and Elinor Ostrom. 1997. "The Institutional Analysis and Development Framework: Application to Irrigation Policy in Nepal." In Policy Studies and Developing Nations: An Institutional and Implementation Focus, vol. 5, ed. Derick W. Brinkerhoff, 53-85. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.

    Landa, Janet T. 1994. Trust, Ethnicity, and Identity: Beyond the New Institutional Economics of Ethnic Trading Networks, Contract Law, and Gift-Exchange. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

    Loveman, Brian. 1993. The Constitution of Tyranny: Regimes of Exception in Spanish America. University of Pittsburgh Press.

    Martin, Fenton. 1989/1992. Common-Pool Resources and Collective Action: A Bibliography, vols. 1 & 2. Bloomington: Indiana University, Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis.

    McGinnis, Michael D., ed. 1999a. Polycentric Games and Institutions: Readings from the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

    _____, ed. 1999b. Polycentricity and Local Public Economies: Readings from the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

    McGinnis, Michael, and Elinor Ostrom. 1996. "Design Principles for Local and Global Commons." In The International Political Economy and International Institutions, vol. II, ed. Oran Young, 464-93. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.

    Netting, Robert McC. 1993. Smallholders, Householders: Farm Families and the Ecology of Intensive, Sustainable Agriculture. Stanford University Press.

    North, Douglass C. 1981. Structure and Change in Economic History. New York: Norton.

    _____. 1990. Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance. Cambridge University Press.

    North, Douglass C., and Robert Paul Thomas. 1973. The Rise of the Western World: A New Economic History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Oakerson, Ronald J. 1992. "Analyzing the Commons: A Framework." In Making the Commons Work: Theory, Practice, and Policy, ed. Daniel W. Bromley et al., 41-59. San Francisco: ICS Press.

    Oakerson, Ronald J., and S. Tjip Walker. 1997. "Analyzing Policy Reform and Reforming Policy Analysis: An Institutionalist Approach." In Policy Studies and Developing Nations: An Institutional and Implementation Focus, vol. 5, ed. Derick W. Brinkerhoff, 21-51. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.

    Obolonsky, Alexander. 1996. The Drama of Russian Political History: System Against Individuality. Bloomington: Indiana University, Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis.

    Ostrom, Elinor. 1965. Public Entrepreneurship: A Case Study in Ground Water Management. Ph.D. dissertation, University of California at Los Angeles.

    _____. 1990. Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action. Cambridge University Press.

    _____. 1992. Crafting Institutions for Self-Governing Irrigation Systems. San Francisco: ICS Press.

    _____. 1998. "Coping with Tragedies of the Commons." Annual Review of Political Science 2, forthcoming.

    Ostrom, Elinor, Roy Gardner, and James Walker, with Arun Agrawal, William Blomquist, Edella Schlager, and Shui-Yan Tang. 1994. Rules, Games, and Common-Pool Resources. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

    Ostrom, Elinor, Larry Schroeder, and Susan Wynne. 1993. Institutional Incentives and Sustainable Development: Infrastructure Policies in Perspective. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

    Ostrom, Vincent. 1953a."State Administration of Natural Resources in the West." American Political Science Review 47(2) (June): 478-93.

    _____. 1953b. Water and Politics: A Study of Water Policies and Administration in the Development of Los Angeles. Los Angeles: The Haynes Foundation.

    _____. 1953c. Water Supply. Los Angeles: The Haynes Foundation. (Metropolitan Los Angeles: A Study in Integration, vol. 8).

    _____. 1987. The Political Theory of a Compound Republic: Designing the American Experiment. 2d rev. ed. San Francisco: ICS Press [first edition 1971].

    ____. 1989. The Intellectual Crisis in American Public Administration. 2d ed. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press [first edition 1973].

    _____. 1991. The Meaning of American Federalism: Constituting a Self-Governing Society. San Francisco: ICS Press.

    _____. 1997. The Meaning of Democracy and the Vulnerability of Democracies: A Response to Tocqueville's Challenge. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

    Ostrom, Vincent, David Feeny, and Hartmut Picht, eds. 1993. Rethinking Institutional Analysis and Development. 2d ed. San Francisco: ICS Press.

    Ostrom, Vincent, and Elinor Ostrom. 1965. "A Behavioral Approach to the Study of Intergovernmental Relations." The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 359 (May): 137-46.

    _____. 1977. "A Theory for Institutional Analysis of Common Pool Problems." In Managing the Commons, ed. Garrett Hardin and John Baden, 157-72. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman.

    Ostrom, Vincent, Charles M. Tiebout, and Robert Warren. 1961. "The Organization of Government in Metropolitan Areas: A Theoretical Inquiry." American Political Science Review 55 (Dec.): 831-42.

    Sawyer, Amos. 1992. The Emergence of Autocracy in Liberia: Tragedy and Challenge. San Francisco: ICS Press.

    Tang, Shui Yan. 1992. Institutions and Collective Action: Self-Governance in Irrigation. San Francisco: ICS Press.

    Thomson, James T. 1992. A Framework for Analyzing Institutional Incentives in Community Forestry. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

    Tocqueville, Alexis de. 1969 [1835]. Democracy in America. Edited by J.P. Mayer, translated by George Lawrence, Anchor Books.

    Walker, S. Tjip. 1994. "Crafting a Market: A Case Study of USAID's Fertilizer Sub-Sector Reform Program." Decentralization: Finance & Management Project Report. Burlington, VT: Associates in Rural Development, Inc.

    Weschler, Louis F. 1968. Water Resources Management: The Orange County Experience. Davis: University of California, Davis, Institute of Governmental Affairs, California Government Series no. 14.

    Wunsch, James S., and Dele Olowu, ed. 1995. The Failure of the Centralized State: Institutions and Self-Governance in Africa. 2d ed. San Francisco: ICS Press.

    Yang, Tai Shuenn. 1987. Property Rights and Constitutional Order in Imperial China. Ph.D. dissertation, Indiana University, Department of Political Science.

    Suggested Further Readings

    The best place to start is Elinor Ostrom, Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action (Cambridge University Press, 1990). This award-winning book summarizes a large amount of field research and lays out the "design principles" shared by all the cases in which communities successfully managed their common-pool resources over long periods. Rules, Games, and Common-Pool Resources (University of Michigan Press, 1994), written by Elinor Ostrom, Roy Gardner, and James Walker with the assistance of four Workshop colleagues, is a truly unique book that fully integrates field research, formal models, and laboratory experiments, all focused on the management of common-pool resources.

    Institutional Incentives and Sustainable Development: Infrastructure Policies in Perspective (Westview Press, 1993), by Elinor Ostrom, Larry Schroeder, and Susan Wynne, is a textbook that emphasizes the importance of common-pool resources for development policy, with particular emphasis on the development and sustainability of rural infrastructures. Steven Hackett's Environmental and Natural Resources Economics: Theory, Policy, and the Sustainable Society (M.E. Sharpe, 1998) is a basic text on environmental economics by a Workshop-affiliated scholar.

    The study of irrigation systems has played an important role in developing and extending the Workshop approach to institutional analysis. Two books which emerged from doctoral dissertations on this subject are Shui Yan Tang, Institutions and Collective Action: Self-Governance in Irrigation (Institute for Contemporary Studies [ICS] Press, 1992) and Wai Fung Lam, Governing Irrigation Systems in Nepal: Institutions, Infrastructure, and Collective Action (ICS Press, 1998). The general implications of Workshop research for the practical establishment and maintenance of irrigation systems are summarized in Elinor Ostrom, Crafting Institutions for Self-Governing Irrigation Systems (ICS Press, 1992). William Blomquist, Dividing the Waters: Governing Groundwater in Southern California (ICS Press, 1992) provides a good overview of problems relating to water management, including the systems that Elinor Ostrom studied in her doctoral dissertation, long before the Workshop was established.

    Readings in this volume have concentrated on irrigation systems, watershed management, and fisheries, but Workshop affiliated scholars have investigated many other types of common-pool resources. Making the Commons Work: Theory, Practice, and Policy (ICS Press, 1992), edited by Daniel W. Bromley et al., collects papers that apply the Institutional Analysis and Development framework to several different substantive examples of common-pool resource management. Clark Gibson, Peasants, Poachers, and Politicians: The Political Economy of Wildlife in Africa (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming) examines the controversies associated with wildlife management in Zambia. Arun Agrawal, Greener Pastures: Politics, Markets, and Community among a Migrant Pastoral People (Duke University Press, forthcoming), evaluates the efforts of pastoral groups in Nepal and Northern India to manage a diverse range of common-pool resources, not all of which are under their exclusive control. Robert McC. Netting, Smallholders, Householders: Farm Families and the Ecology of Intensive, Sustainable Agriculture. (Stanford University Press, 1993) demonstrates the effectiveness of the many techniques that peasants in all parts of the world adopt in order to cope with their uncertain environment.

    Forestry resources are the focus for much of the research currently underway at the Workshop, as part of the International Forestry Resources and Institutions (IFRI) Program. A brief volume that lays out the overall structure of the IFRI research program is James T. Thomson, A Framework for Analyzing Institutional Incentives in Community Forestry (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization [FAO], 1992). The first major edited volume to emerge from this extensive research program is Clark Gibson, Margaret McKean, and Elinor Ostrom, editors, Keeping the Forest: Communities, Institutions, and the Governance of Forests (MIT Press, forthcoming).

    By this point it should be apparent that the single most important influence on the Workshop approach to institutional analysis has been Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America, the classic work on self-governing associations in democratic societies. A modern classic on the crucial roles played by informal institutions in development is Hernando De Soto, The Other Path: The Invisible Revolution in the Third World, (Harper & Row, 1989). Janet T. Landa, Trust, Ethnicity, and Identity: Beyond the New Institutional Economics of Ethnic Trading Networks, Contract Law, and Gift-Exchange (University of Michigan Press, 1994) applies institutional analysis to the informal networks formed by diverse ethnic groups.

    In The Meaning of Democracy and the Vulnerability of Democracies: A Response to Tocqueville's Challenge (University of Michigan Press, 1997), Vincent Ostrom examines the prospects for developing self-governing societies in all the major world civilizations. The informational problems inherent in autocratic rule are scrutinized by Antoni Kaminski in An Institutional Theory of Communist Regimes: Design, Function, and Breakdown (ICS Press, 1992). T. S. Yang's Property Rights and Constitutional Order in Imperial China (1987) is an award-winning (but as yet unpublished) Ph.D. dissertation that explicates the basic structure of Chinese society over several centuries.

    Kathryn Firmin-Sellers, The Transformation of Property Rights in the Gold Coast: An Empirical Analysis Applying Rational Choice Theory (Cambridge University Press, 1996) covers a specific example of the historical development of the centralized constitutional order typical of post-colonial Africa. The general problems of governance in contemporary Africa are surveyed in The Failure of the Centralized State: Institutions and Self-Governance in Africa, 2nd edition, (ICS Press, 1995), edited by James S. Wunsch and Dele Olowu. Contemporary crises in Liberia are placed in historical perspective in The Emergence of Autocracy in Liberia: Tragedy and Challenge (ICS Press, 1992) by Amos Sawyer, a former president of that country.

    The benefits of polycentric governance are most apparent when analysts draw explicit connections between local and national governments. The best and most succinct summary of the Workshop perspective on metropolitan governance remains The Organization of Local Public Economies, a 1987 Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations [ACIR] report written by Ronald J. Oakerson. Local Government in the United States (ICS Press, 1988), by Vincent Ostrom, Robert Bish, and Elinor Ostrom, is an overview of the U.S. political system that was originally written for an Italian audience. Mark Sproule-Jones, Governments at Work: Canadian Parliamentary Federalism and Its Public Policy Effects (University of Toronto Press, 1993), shows that institutional analysis works north of the border as well, in this integrative evaluation of the constitution of order in Canada at the local and national levels.

    The broader implications of Workshop research for development issues are explored in Rethinking Institutional Analysis and Development, 2d ed. (ICS Press, 1993), edited by Vincent Ostrom, David Feeny, and Hartmut Picht. This book also includes a mixture of micro-level and macro-level applications. The Workshop approach to institutional analysis is one of several analytical approaches to the study of governance included in The Public Sector-Challenge for Coordination and Learning (Walter de Gruyter, 1991), edited by Franz-Xaver Kaufmann.

    The current volume was prepared in conjunction with two other volumes of previously published articles and book chapters by Workshop scholars. Polycentricity and Local Public Economies (University of Michigan Press, 1999) includes classic works on the nature of polycentric order and a series of research reports comparing the performance of large and small police agencies in selected metropolitan areas of the United States. Polycentric Games and Institutions (University of Michigan Press, 1999) includes technical papers that develop formal models and experimental tests of the conditions under which self-governance is likely to be successful. This latter book nicely complements the current volume because most of the models and experiments developed there are based on a generic representation of the problems associated with managing common-pool resources.

    Finally, readers are encouraged to check the Workshop's website for recent updates and for links to reference and teaching materials. (The URL is A three-volume bibliography on Common-Pool Resources and Collective Action is available from the Workshop.

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    Last updated:  October 29, 1998