Nobels minnepris i økonomi delt mellom Ostrom og Williamson

Elinor Ostrom og Oliver E. Williamson deler Sveriges Riksbanks pris i økonomisk vitenskap til minne om Alfred Nobel for 2009.

Begge får prisen for sine bidrag til feltet Economic governance, læren om hvordan styring  i og mellom organisasjoner, individer, marked og myndighetene kan brukes til å håndtere samfunnets problemer og anliggender.

Ostrom er ansatt ved Indiana University, Bloomington og fikk i første rekke prisen for sitt arbeid med commons (fellesgoder). Dette er goder det er vanskelig å hindre tilgangen til, slik at eiendomsretten kan bli svak eller uklar, og mange vil derfor vegre seg for å bidra til produksjonen eller vedlikeholdet av disse. Eksempler kan være tilgangen på rent vann, vei eller miljøgoder. Ostrom har blant annet studert hvordan landbrukssamfunn i utviklingsland har organisert tilbudet av slike goder, og har blant annet vist at felleseie ikke nødvendigvis er en katastrofe.

Williamson er ansatt ved University of California, Berkeley og fikk i første rekke prisen for sitt arbeid med boundaries of the firm (analyser av transaksjoner innen og mellom bedrifter). Han har særlig analysert hvilke produksjonsbeslutninger bedriften gjør internt og hvilke de overlater til markedet, samt problemer med å finne informasjonskostnader. Williamson finner at det er i balansegangen mellom transaksjonskostnader og interne styringsproblemer at bedriftene finner sin størrelse og vi finner grensene mellom bedrift og marked.

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3 Responses to “Nobels minnepris i økonomi delt mellom Ostrom og Williamson”

  1. Are Oust sier:

    In a series of papers and books from 1971 onwards, Oliver Williamson (1971, 1975, 1985) has argued that markets and firms should be seen as alternative governance structures, which differ in how they resolve conflicts of interest. The drawback of markets is that negotiations invite haggling and disagreement; in firms, these problems are smaller because conflicts can be resolved through the use of authority. The drawback of firms is that authority can be abused.

    In markets with many similar sellers and buyers, conflicts are usually tolerable since both sellers and buyers can find other trading partners in case of disagreement. One prediction of Williamson’s theory is therefore that the greater their mutual dependence, the more likely people are to conduct their transactions inside the boundary of a firm.

    The degree of mutual dependence in turn is largely determined by the extent to which assets can be redeployed outside the relationship. For example, a coal mine and a nearby electric generating plant are more likely to be jointly incorporated the greater the distance to other mines and plants.

    Kilde: Kungl. Vetenskapsakademien

  2. Are Oust sier:

    Elinor Ostrom (1990) has challenged the conventional wisdom that common property is poorly managed and should be completely privatized or regulated by central authorities. Based on numerous studies of user-managed fish stocks, pastures, woods, lakes, and groundwater basins, Ostrom concluded that the outcomes are often better than predicted by standard theories. The perspective of these theories was too static to capture the sophisticated institutions for decisionmaking and rule enforcement that have emerged to handle conflicts of interest in user-managed common pools around the world. By turning to more recent theories that take dynamics into account, Ostrom found that some of the observed institutions could be well understood as equilibrium outcomes of repeated games. However, other rules and types of behavior are difficult to reconcile with this theory, at least under the common assumption that players are selfish materialists who only punish others when it is their own interest. In field studies and laboratory experiments individuals’ willingness to punish defectors appears greater than predicted by such a model. These observations are important not only to the study of natural resource management, but also to the study of human cooperation more generally.

    The two contributions are complementary. Williamson focuses on the problem of regulating transactions that are not covered by detailed contracts or legal rules; Ostrom focuses on the separate problem of rule enforcement.

    Kilde: Kungl. Vetenskapsakademien

  3. Are Oust sier:

    Both Ostrom’s and Williamson’s contributions address head-on the challenges posed by the 1991 Laureate in Economic Sciences, Ronald Coase (1937, 1960). Coase argued that no satisfactory theory of the firm could rely entirely on properties of production technologies, because economies of scale and scope might be utilized either within or across legal boundaries. Instead, the natural hypothesis is that firms tend to form when administrative decision-making yields better outcomes than the alternative market transaction. While Coase’s argument eventually convinced economists about the need to look inside the boundaries of firms, it offered only the preliminaries of an actual theory of the firm. Without specifying the determinants of the costs associated with individual bargains or the costs of administrative decision-making, Coase’s statement has little empirical content. The challenge remained to find ways of sharpening the theory enough to yield refutable predictions. What exactly do organizations such as firms and associations accomplish that cannot be better accomplished in markets?

    Kilde: Kungl. Vetenskapsakademien

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