Elinor Ostrom and the Bloomington School of Political Economy, Volumes 1 through 4

Elinor Ostrom and the Bloomington School of Political Economy, Volumes 1 through 4



Elinor (Lin) Ostrom was awarded the 2009 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for her pathbreaking research on "economic governance, especially the commons"; but she also made important contributions to several other fields of political economy and public policy. The range of topics she covered and the multiple methods she used might convey the mistaken impression that her body of work is disjointed and incoherent.

This four-volume compendium of papers written by Lin, alone or with various coauthors (most notably including her husband and partner, Vincent), supplemented by others expanding on their work, brings together the common strands of research that serve to tie her impressive oeuvre together. That oeuvre, together with Vincent's own impressive body of work, has come to define a distinctive school of political-economic thought, the "Bloomington School."

Each of the four volumes is organized around a central theme of Lin's work. Volume 1 explores the roles played by the concept polycentricity in the disciplines of public administration, political science, and other forms of political economy. Polycentricity denotes a complex system of governance in which public authorities, citizens, and private organizations work together to establish and enforce the rules that guide their behavior. It encapsulates an approach toward policy analysis that blurs standard disciplinary boundaries between the social sciences.

Throughout their long and remarkably productive careers, Elinor and Vincent Ostrom never tired of reminding us of the capacity of ordinary humans to transcend their own limitations by engaging with others in the myriad forms of collective action required to build and sustain a self-governing society. Their careers stand as exemplars of the proper relationship between rigorous scholarship and responsible citizenship.

In addition to being one of the coeditors of the four volume set Professor Cole is the coauthor of chapter 5 "The Variety of Property Systems and Rights in Natural Resources" in volume 2 along with Elinor Ostrom, author of chapter 5 "Advantages of a Polycentric Approach to Climate Change Policy" in volume 4, author of chapter 8 "Learning from Lin: Lessons and Cautions from the Natural Commons for the Knowledge Commons" in volume 4, and coauthor of chapter 12 "Digging Deeper into Hardin's Pasture: The Complex Institutional Structure of 'The Tragedy of the Commons'" in volume 4 along with Graham Epstein and Michael D. McGinnis.


9780739191002 (hb.), 9780739191019 (e-book)

Publication Date



Lexington Books


Lanham, MD


Political science, Public administration, Bloomington School, Polycentricity


Law | Law and Economics


Full bibliographic details available in IUCAT

Copies available in the Jerome Hall Law Library, JA 71 .E434 2015

Elinor Ostrom and the Bloomington School of Political Economy, Volumes 1 through 4