Ostrom - Multiple Levels of Analysis Reading

(Ctools) Ostrom, Elinor, “Multiple levels of analysis” pp. 50-55, Governing the Commons

common-pool resource
de jure
formal law, not necessarily working rules. The absence of de jure laws does not mean the absence of effective rules.
de facto
working rule/what actually happens
set of working rules that define decision-makers, rules, procedures, communication, pay-offs
working rule: common knowledge, monitored, enforced (at least to some extent) by those directly involved in the CPR problem
: arena
where decisions affecting sets of rules made at that level will occur

Levels of analysis

In order to analyze institutions, analysis must look at each level separately, keeping other levels static (e.g., Garrett Hardin's Tragedy of the Commons). While this makes it easier to analyze, it is not a real picture of CPR governance, since all levels are dynamic and interact with each other. In reality, operators move between arenas and levels.

Rules are nested. The deeper the level, the harder it is to change.

  1. Operational-choice rules
    1. At the operational level, analysis assumes rules and environment are givens
    2. Choices in this level affect the physical world
    3. Hardin's Tragedy of the Commons was an operational-level analysis - without any other levels of analysis
    4. Rules guide individual decisions, strategies, monitoring, enforcement (e.g., amounts of fines), pay-offs (e.g., incentives to break/follow the rules)
    5. Rules made in the collective-choice arena (so change at operational level has to come from collective-choice level).
  2. Collective-choice rules
    1. Rules used by governors to make policies/operational rules
    2. E.g., the turno system
  3. Constitutional-choice rules
    1. Rules used to define who is eligible to be a governor, collective-choice rules
    2. E.g., the water court