Ostrom Design Principles

Characteristics of robust institutions

The design principles were originally outlined in Governing the Commons (1990). They identify core underlying “best practices” or factors (i.e., rules and structures) that characterize robust institutions for the governance of common-pool resources (CPR).

Successful or robust CPR institutions are developed by resource users/participants and are determined in two ways:

  1. The likelihood of increasing a CPR’s long-term sustainability and,
  2. Their permanence over time (across generations) based upon the compliance of participants to these rules-in-use.

These institutions are usually also absent in failed CPR cases.

Select bibliography

Cole, Daniel H. and Michael D. McGinnis. 2015. Elinor Ostrom and the Bloomington School of Political Economy: Volume 1, Polycentricity in Public Administration and Political Science. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

McGinnis, Michael and Elinor Ostrom. 1992. “Design Principles for Local and Global Commons.” Paper presented at the Linking Local and Global Commons, Cambridge, MA.

Ostrom, Elinor. 1990. Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

________. 2005. Understanding Institutional Diversity. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

________. 2009. “Design Principles of Robust Property-Rights Institutions: What Have We Learned.” In Property Rights and Land Policies, eds. G.K. Ingram and Y.-H. Hong. Cambridge, MA: Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.

________. 2010. “Beyond Markets and States: Polycentric Governance of Complex Economic Systems.” American Economic Review100(3): 641-672.

________. 2010. “A Long Polycentric Journey.”& Annual Review of Political Science 13.