DEFINITION of 'Elinor Ostrom'
A political scientist who won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2009, along with Oliver Williamson, and was the first woman to earn this distinction. Her award-winning research analyzes economic governance, with a focus on the commons. She has published several books, including Governing the Commons (1990); Understanding Institutional Diversity (2005) and Working Together: Collective Action, the Commons, and Multiple Methods in Practice (2010).
BREAKING DOWN 'Elinor Ostrom'
Conventional economic wisdom says that property that is communally owned tends to be mismanaged, a phenomenon known as the "tragedy of the commons". One aspect of Ostrom's studies of user-managed fish stocks, pastures, woods, lakes and groundwater basins show that common property is often managed better than we would expect it to be.