accountabilitybloke (old blog)

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The Nobel Ostrom!!!!

[I got carried away with my FB posts on Ostrom this AM, so thought I’d bring it all to one place where it might make more sense…]

Basics of Ostrom’s work: institutions and “science” matter.
Institutions matter because people matter, not as self-serving individuals, but as social beings engaged in developing solutions to collective problems from dealing with potholes and arranging for other public services to establishing rules for dealing with the “commons”. Here is where she most overlaps with her co-winner, Oliver Williamson…..
Along these lines, the work of Ostrom and Williamson can be traced back to Adam Smith — but not the Smith of Wealth of Nations (a “false god” if there ever was one), but the Smith of Theory of Moral Sentiments. My work on accountability is directly related to the idea that the relationships underlying governance are ultimately shape by the constitutive arrangements of “moral communities” that form and direct the operations of the two major economic institutions of our day: the commons (Ostrom) and the firm (Williamson)…..

Science matters because it provides the opportunity to test our views on institutions — not as a means to “prove”, but as a driving force to “falsify” the unwarranted assertions of reformers who often forget that logic and belief are not enough when it comes to governing.

This was the lesson of the NSF-funded course I took from Lin as a young assistant prof. In promoting that view over the decades she has put to use a very liberal approach to methdology, calling on her students and colleagues to rely on surveys, field research, social experiments, etc — whatever it takes to put assertions to the test. In this respect, her work is distinct from Williamson, and is more in the tradition of another political science Nobel laureate, Herbert Simon.

October 12th, 2009 Posted by | accountabilitybloke | no comments