Elinor Ostrom became the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics today, October 12, 2009. Ostrom, who is a professor at Indiana University, Bloomington, was awarded the prize “for her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons,” which the Wall Street Journal defines as the “way in which natural resources are managed as shared resources.”
The Nobel judges found that “Elinor Ostrom has challenged the conventional wisdom that common property is poorly managed and should be either regulated by central authorities or privatized. Based on numerous studies of user-managed fish stocks, pastures, woods, lakes, and groundwater basins, Ostrom concludes that the outcomes are, more often than not, better than predicted by standard theories. She observes that resource users frequently develop sophisticated mechanisms for decision-making and rule enforcement to handle conflicts of interest, and she characterizes the rules that promote successful outcomes,” according to a Nobel Foundation press release.
Ostrom shares this year’s prize with Oliver Williamson of the University of California, Berkeley, who was awarded the prize “for his analysis of economic governance, especially the boundaries of the [business] firm.”