Couple days later and I’m getting some more clarity on how to make it easier to get “in” to Ostrom’s framework… this may not be interesting at all to anyone else but i’m gonna write it down anyway!
I think the ‘flow’ of principles in the IAD framework (i.e. Institutional Analysis and Design) could be improved – for the purpose of communication and education – by a simple reorder of one of the principles.
The principles normally are ordered like this (i’m translating/simplifying here):
- rule-making processes that involve community members
- conflict resolution
- government recognition of community rights to self govern
- nestedness of governing systems
I think most people instinctively understand these things, though seeing it all at once is a lot to take in. Now, IMO the characteristic that really makes a governance model ‘alive’ is #3 – that members of the community should be able to participate somehow in making and changing the rules. But conceptually this is a higher level of abstraction. And having walked people through this a bunch of times, I wonder if it gets in the way there in the #3 spot.
If the principles were reordered like this:
- conflict resolution mechanisms
- rule-making processes that community members can participate in
- rights to self-govern
- nested governing systems
#1-5 now have a clear linear logical progression, each principle building directly upon the previous one: boundaries create the context for rules, rules establish a framework for monitoring, monitoring is a critical capacity for sanctioning, sanctions can work fairly as a system if there are conflict resolution mechanisms to adjudicate disagreements.
And #6-8 then work better together: all of the above can be a fair and just system if members are able to participate somehow in making and changing the rules. (This even flows naturally from conflict resolution: a likely path to resolution of a good-faith conflict over rule-interpretation entails changing the rules to be clearer and more appropriate!) And participatory rule-making is only possible if the right to make and enforce rules is recognized by higher authorities. Finally, this logic should also apply “internally” to the resource sharing system, such that a complex commons might include multiple localized systems in which all of the above apply.
This may be an easier “flow” for people to wrap their heads around, rather than having to jump up a level of abstraction in the third step, only to have to immediately jump back to the linear monitoring>sanctions>conflict resolution – with the final two abstract principles then dangling on as an afterthought. I’m going to figure out how to test it
Like I said, it may be that I’m the only one who finds this interesting, but for me it is an outcome of having run this framework through group discussion multiple times, so I wanted to share!