January, 2014

Institutional Diversity and Political Economy

The Ostroms and Beyond
  • Paul Dragos Aligica

    Senior Fellow, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
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Elinor Ostrom, co-recipient of the 2009 Nobel Prize in economics, argues that in studying social order, we should not be limited to only the conceptions of order derived from the work of Adam Smith and Thomas Hobbes. To be precise, we should not limit ourselves to theoretical frameworks of The State and to theoretical frameworks of The Market. We need approaches that match the extensive variety of institutional arrangements existent in the world.

In this book, Paul Dragos Aligica discusses some of the most challenging ideas emerging out of the research program on institutional diversity associated with Ostrom and her associates, while outlining a set of new research directions and an original interpretation of the significance and future of this program.


"It is a simply fantastic book. Paul Dragos Aligica brought together aspects of our work that I knew about but had not yet linked together in the way that he has. The overwhelming reaction I have had is that he has taken our work many steps into the future." --Elinor Ostrom, 2009 Nobel Prize Laureate in Economics

"Paul Dragos Aligica's carefully argued and nuanced book is an important contribution to an emerging and exciting research program in the social sciences and social philosophy. Challenging standard assumptions that homogenize and normalize individuals, abstracting away from their many differences, Aligica takes the diversity and heterogeneity of individuals and social groups as his point of departure. His comprehensive interpretation of the Ostroms' path-breaking work relates their insights concerning diversity in institutional contexts to their wider moral and social philosophy. The lesson that emerges is fundamental: heterogeneity is not only a challenge to, but a resource in support of, a self-governing society of free individuals." --Gerald Gaus, James E. Rogers Professor of Philosophy, University of Arizona

"This is an innovative and instructive treatment of a classic problem in political philosophy: the rational design of a benign institutional order. Its approach is rooted in epistemology by centralizing the question of how to best develop and deploy the information needed to realize this objective in the complex conditions that prevail in our day. In endorsing the polycentric contextualization of a pragmatic perspective, this insightful discussion infuses oxygen into a region that is all too often replete with hot air." --Nicholas Rescher, Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy, University of Pittsburg

"In this work, Aligica not only provides a thorough discussion of the Ostroms' work, but also provides a deep, original, and creative examination of institutional feedback, policy design, and democratic society. It is a brilliant analysis of the comparative institutional analysis of democratic governance." --Peter Boettke, www.coordinationproblem.org