June 1, 2005

What African Analysts Can Learn From the Ostroms

  • Amos Sawyer

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Sawyer, Amos. "What African Analysts Can Learn From the Ostroms." Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 57, Issue 2, (June 2005): 237-240.

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African governance arrangements are typically constructed from the top down, frequently establishing predatory and repressive relationships with the societies they are meant to govern. In some countries, these arrangements collapse with tragic consequences. The work of Vincent and Lin Ostrom provides insights and analytic tools that can be helpful to scholars and practitioners who address Africa’s governance challenges. The Ostroms have shown that people can and do depart from arrangements of domination and predation by crafting polycentric institutions through processes of constitutional and collective choice, drawing upon understandings of the biophysical and cultural contexts including local knowledge, and relevant experiences of others elsewhere.