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Elinor Ostrom

Elinor Ostrom

The new building for the Nijmegen School of Management is named after Elinor Ostrom. For those who don’t recognise the name, Elinor Ostrom was an American political scientist (1933-2012). In 2009, she became the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize for Economics for her research into Common Pool Resources, or common resources.


Elinor Ostrom

Ostrom’s work is symbolic of the social impact of fundamental scientific research

Common resources In a nutshell, while the well-known Tragedy of the Commons theory suggests that the communal use of goods leads to neglect and excessive use – famous examples of such tragedies being overfishing and air pollution – Ostrom shows that people with effective local governance are more than capable of fishing from the same pond in a decent, sustainable and socially responsible way. The Institutional Analysis and Development framework she developed is relevant for research into institutions and sustainable management of common resources as well as for alternatives to privatisation and nationalisation.

Professor of Public Administration and Vice Dean of Research, Sandra van Thiel, is delighted with the name ‘Elinor Ostrom’ for the new building. “Scientists from a range of fields of expertise continue to expand on her insights – her theory is applicable across a range of disciplines and this fits in well with the Nijmegen School of Management’s own multidisciplinary approach. We encourage our students and researchers to look beyond the borders of their own fields of expertise, to go out and find each other, share their knowledge and collaborate. Did you know that this is the first building in the whole of Radboud University to be named after a woman?”

Equal opportunities Vice President of the Executive Board, Wilma de Koning explains the reason behind the name: “By choosing this name, the university is stressing the importance of equal opportunities for women and men.” Ostrom was rejected from an Economics PhD programme at a young age, because she was discouraged from taking trigonometry during secondary school. Dean, Paul Hendriks adds: “Ostrom’s work is symbolic of the social impact of fundamental scientific research. Her work is still considered relevant for discussions on the sustainable management of resources and the future of the planet.”

Elinor Ostrom was a professor at Indiana University in Bloomington (US). Together with her husband Vincent Ostrom, she founded the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at the university in 1973.

Officiële site Nobel Prizes
Elinor Ostrom on wikipedia