Public Choice

, Volume 163, Issue 1–2, pp 111–127 | Cite as

Public Administration, Public Choice and the Ostroms: the achievements, the failure, the promise

  • Paul Dragos Aligica


The paper explores the Public Administration roots and facets of the Bloomington School of Public Choice and Institutional Theory and in doing that, it revisits the problem of the applied dimension of Public Choice. The paper investigates and documents the nature, significance and reception of Vincent and Elinor Ostrom’s work, approaching it as a pioneering attempt to promote a double agenda: on the one hand, to advance Public Choice theory as a paradigm shift in Public Administration, and on the other, to advance Public Administration as the preeminent applied domain of Public Choice theory.


Public Administration Public Policy Normative Theory Institutional Theory Institutional Design 



This paper was presented in the Plenary Session dedicated to The Bloomington School of Political Economy at The 50th Anniversary Conference of the Public Choice Society, in New Orleans, 7–19 March 2013. The author would like to thank the members of the panel, Michael Munger, Roberta Herzberg, James Walker and Eli Dourado. Special thanks to Ed Lopez, William F. Shughart II, Steven Brams and Theo Toonen for their generous comments.


  1. Brams, S. (2006). The normative turn in public choice. Public Choice, 127, 245–250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Brown, B., & Stillman, R. J., I. I. (1986). A search for public administration. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Buchanan, J. M. (2000). Economics: Between predictive science and moral philosophy. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Caldwell, B. (2008). Gordon Tullock’s ‘The Organization of Inquiry’: A critical appraisal. Public Choice, Vol. 135, No. 1/2. In A symposium on Tullocks contributions to spontaneous order studies, April, 2008 (pp. 23–34).Google Scholar
  5. Frederickson, G., Smith, K., Larimer, C., & Licari, M. (2012). The Public Administration theory primer (2nd ed.). Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  6. Gigerenzer, G. (2008). Rationality for mortals: How people cope with uncertainty. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Lovrich, N., & Neiman, M. (1984). Public choice theory in public administration: An annotated bibliography; foreword by Robert Golembiewski (Vol. 167). New York: Garland Reference Library of Social Science, Garland.Google Scholar
  8. Lynn, L. (2006). Public Management: Old and new. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  9. Lynn, N. B., & Wildawsky, A. (Eds.). (1990). Public Administration—The state of the discipline. Chatham, NJ: Chatham House.Google Scholar
  10. McGinnis, M., & Ostrom, E. (2012). Reflections on Vincent Ostrom, public administration, and polycentricity. Public Administration Review, 72(1), 15–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ostrom, V. (1964). Editorial comment: Developments in the “no-name” fields of public administration. Public Administration Review, 24(1), 62–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Ostrom, V. (1997). The meaning of democracy and the vulnerability of democracies: A response to Tocqueville’s challenge. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  13. Ostrom, E. (1998). The comparative study of public economies. In Presented upon acceptance of the Frank E. Seidman Distinguished Award in Political Economy. Memphis, TN: P.K. Seidman Foundation.Google Scholar
  14. Ostrom, V. (1999). Public goods and public choices. In M. McGinnis (Ed.), Polycentricity and local public economies: Readings from the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis (pp. 75–103). Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  15. Ostrom, V. (2008 [1973]). The intellectual crisis in American Public Administration (3rd Ed.). Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press. [1st ed. 1973; rev. ed. 1974; 2nd ed. 1989].Google Scholar
  16. Ostrom, V. (2008). The political theory of a compound republic (rev, in.). New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction; Lanham, MD: Found Lexington Books.Google Scholar
  17. Ostrom, V., Bish, R., & Ostrom, E. (1988). Local government in the United States. San Francisco: ICS Press.Google Scholar
  18. Ostrom, E., & Ostrom, V. (2004). The quest for meaning in Public Choice. American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 63(1), 105–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ostrom, V., Tiebout, C., & Warren, R. (1961). The organization of government in metropolitan areas: A theoretical inquiry. American Political Science Review, 55, 831–842.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Public Administration Section of APSA. (2005). Gaus Awards. Public Administration Section Newsletter, 4(1), 1–2.Google Scholar
  21. Smith, V. (2009). Rationality in economics, constructivist and ecological forms. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Stillman, R. J., I. I. (1999). Preface to Public Administration: A search for themes and direction. Burke, VA: Chatelaine Press.Google Scholar
  23. Toonen, T. (1998). Networks, management and institutions: Public administration as “normal science”. Public Administration, 76(2), 229–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Toonen, T. (2010). Resilience in Public Administration: The work of Elinor and Vincent Ostrom from a Public Administration perspective. Public Administration Review, 70(2), 193–202.Google Scholar
  25. Tullock, G. (1966). The organization of inquiry. Durham: Duke University Press. Also in C. K. Rowley (Ed., 2005) The selected works of Gordon Tullock (Vol. 3). Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund.Google Scholar
  26. Waldo, D. (1981). The enterprise of Public Administration: A summary view. Navato, CA: Chandler and Sharp.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.F.A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, Mercatus CenterGeorge Mason UniversityArlingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations