The Ostrom Workshop

Artisanship and Knowledge Commons

Originally published in Revue d'économie politique

This paper analyzes the Ostrom Workshop as a site of interdisciplinary collective knowledge production. We provide an overview of the history of the Workshop and its most important outputs in terms of ideas, artifacts, and facilities for research. We argue that the Workshop’s contributions to social science came about by way of three types of collective knowledge production: team production, co-production and joint production. Team production, the collaboration on research projects is well recognized in the literature, but we demonstrate how the extra-departmental position of the Workshop and its ethos of artisanship greatly facilitated it. Co-production of knowledge was achieved through the active engagement with self-governing communities and the agencies governing the provision of public goods. In these exchanges the goal was not merely the study of governance, but also the crafting of good governance with the relevant communities which was congruent with the idea of co-production of public services emphasized by scholars of the Ostrom Workshop. Finally joint production of complementary outputs took place by way of individual research projects on governance and institutions, and led to the gradual emergence of conceptual language and framework for the analysis of institutions, the Institutional Analysis and Development framework.

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