Toward a New Institutional Analysis of Social-Ecological Systems (NIASES): Combining Elinor Ostrom's IAD and SES Frameworks

23 Pages Posted: 5 Sep 2014 Last revised: 23 Apr 2015

See all articles by Daniel H. Cole

Daniel H. Cole

Indiana University Maurer School of Law; Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs

Graham Epstein

Indiana University Bloomington - Department of Political Science

Michael D. McGinnis

Indiana University Bloomington - Department of Political Science; Indiana University Bloomington - School of Public & Environmental Affairs (SPEA)

Date Written: September 2, 2014

Abstract

Elinor Ostrom's IAD and SES frameworks are both widely used among social scientists. Each framework suffers from significant problems not shared by the other. For instance, the IAD framework pays insufficient attention to important social and, especially, ecological variables that can affect or influence social interactions. The SES framework was designed specifically to resolve that problem, but at the cost of the dynamism inherent in the IAD framework. While the SES is capable of diagnosing social and ecological conditions at a fine level of detail, it cannot explain how various attributes interact to generate outcomes, let alone predict or prescribe changes to social-ecological conditions over time.

This purpose of this paper is to remedy both of those problems by simply combining Ostrom's two frameworks in a very intuitive way. Instead of incorporating the IAD framework into the SES framework, which was Ostrom's initial plan, we do the opposite: the first-tier SES variables simply replace the "Biophysical Conditions," "Community Attributes," and "Rules-in-Use" boxes of the IAD framework. By this simple expedient, the IAD framework deals becomes more attuned to institutional and ecological complexity, and the SES framework becomes part of a truly dynamic set of processes.

We explicate how the combined IAD-SES framework works, first in the relatively static, hypothetical context of Hardin's pasture, and then in the far more dynamic-historical context of Maine's lobster fishery. That last application shows that the two frameworks, when combined, are far more powerful than either framework on its own. In particular, we can use SES variables along with IAD processes to show how interactions of collective-action situations produce outcomes that effect the SES variables which then condition the next phase, round, period, or set of interactions.

More work remains to be done, refining and rationalizing SES variables, and further developing IAD elements (such as "Evaluative Criteria" and relations between formal rules and "rules in use") before the combined IAD-SES framework can be called a truly "New Institutional Analysis of Social-Ecological Systems" (NIASES).

Keywords: institutions, IAD framework, SES framework, social-ecological systems, dynamic

JEL Classification: C7, D7, H4, H77, K11, K32, O13, P52, Q2

Suggested Citation

Cole, Daniel H. and Epstein, Graham and McGinnis, Michael D., Toward a New Institutional Analysis of Social-Ecological Systems (NIASES): Combining Elinor Ostrom's IAD and SES Frameworks (September 2, 2014). Indiana Legal Studies Research Paper No. 299, Indiana University, Bloomington School of Public & Environmental Affairs Research Paper No. 2490999, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2490999

Daniel H. Cole (Contact Author)

Indiana University Maurer School of Law ( email )

211 S. Indiana Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs ( email )

1315 East Tenth Street
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

Graham Epstein

Indiana University Bloomington - Department of Political Science ( email )

Bloomington, IN
United States

Michael D. McGinnis

Indiana University Bloomington - Department of Political Science ( email )

Bloomington, IN
United States

Indiana University Bloomington - School of Public & Environmental Affairs (SPEA) ( email )

1315 East Tenth Street
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

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