Theory, Field, and Laboratory: The Continuing Dialogue

  • Elinor Ostrom
  • Roy Gardner
  • James Walker


Reinhard Selten has proposed a four-step schema for policy analysis, consisting of (1) focus on a section of reality, (2) formal modelling of that reality, (3) comparison of outcomes under different institutional arrangements, and (4) pursuit of empirical research based on those comparisons. In this paper, we apply Selten’s schema to common-pool resources and the problems that they face. We show how the last decade of research has conformed to Selten’s pattern. In particular, we stress the role field studies and controlled laboratory experiments have played in building behavioral theories for these resources - a role we expect to see expand in the future.


Institutional Arrangement Subgame Perfect Equilibrium Social Dilemma American Political Science Review Joint Strategy 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin — Heidelberg 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elinor Ostrom
    • 1
  • Roy Gardner
    • 2
  • James Walker
    • 2
  1. 1.Workshop in Political Theory and Policy AnalysisIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

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