Eerste vrouw met Nobelprijs Economie

Nieuws | de redactie
12 oktober 2009 | Voor het eerst is de Nobelprijs voor de Economie uitgereikt aan een vrouw. De Amerikaanse Elinor Ostrom (Indiana University) deelt de prijs met haar landgenoot Oliver Williamson (University of California). Zij werden uitverkoren vanwege hun werk op het gebied van economic governance.

Toelichting The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

ElinorOstrom has demonstrated how common property can be successfullymanaged by user associations. Oliver Williamson has developed a theory where business firmsserve as structures for conflict resolution. Over the last threedecades these seminal contributions have advanced economicgovernance research from the fringe to the forefront of scientificattention.

Economic transactions take place not only in markets, but alsowithin firms, associations, households, and agencies. Whereaseconomic theory has comprehensively illuminated the virtues andlimitations of markets, it has traditionally paid less attention toother institutional arrangements. The research of Elinor Ostrom andOliver Williamson demonstrates that economic analysis can shedlight on most forms of social organization.

Elinor Ostrom has challenged the conventional wisdom that commonproperty is poorly managed and should be either regulated bycentral authorities or privatized. Based on numerous studies ofuser-managed fish stocks, pastures, woods, lakes, and groundwaterbasins, Ostrom concludes that the outcomes are, more often thannot, better than predicted by standard theories. She observes thatresource users frequently develop sophisticated mechanisms fordecision-making and rule enforcement to handle conflicts ofinterest, and she characterizes the rules that promote successfuloutcomes.

Oliver Williamson has argued that markets and hierarchicalorganizations, such as firms, represent alternative governancestructures which differ in their approaches to resolving conflictsof interest. The drawback of markets is that they often entailhaggling and disagreement. The drawback of firms is that authority,which mitigates contention, can be abused. Competitive markets workrelatively well because buyers and sellers can turn to othertrading partners in case of dissent. But when market competition islimited, firms are better suited for conflict resolution thanmarkets. A key prediction of Williamson’s theory, which has alsobeen supported empirically, is therefore that the propensity ofeconomic agents to conduct their transactions inside the boundariesof a firm increases along with the relationship-specific featuresof their assets.

Klik hiervoor een pdf met meer informatie over deze Nobelprijs. Descientific background over het onderwerp van de winnaars vindt u hier.

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