Institutional resilience and economic systems: Lessons from Elinor Ostrom's work

Paul Dragos Aligica, Vlad Tarko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Comparative economic systems literature deals extensively with 'systemic functions' and 'performance criteria' such as growth, efficiency and equity but rarely mentions the topic of resilience. This paper focusses on the issue of resilience while drawing several important lessons from the contributions in this respect of 2009 Nobel Prize in Economics co-recipient, Elinor Ostrom: The effects of alternative institutional arrangements and social norms as a source of both resilience and vulnerability; the problem of 'highly optimized tolerance' to specific sources of uncertainty; polycentricity as a possible structural solution to sustainability problems. A key point is that resilience is more than mere 'absorptive capacity' or 'speed of recovery': it depends on innovation and creative socio-cultural adaptations made possible by flexible and polycentric institutional processes. That has important implications for the ways we define and assess institutional performance and institutional design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-76
Number of pages25
JournalComparative Economic Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • comparative economic systems
  • institutional design
  • institutional theory
  • institutions
  • polycentricity
  • socio-ecological systems
  • vulnerability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics


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