The Use of the Institutional Grammar 1.0 for Institutional Analysis: A Literature Review

Leah Pieper, Santiago Virgüez, Edella Schlager, Charlie Schweik

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Since Crawford and Ostrom proposed the Institutional Grammar (IG), a conceptual tool for breaking down and organizing institutional statements, a burgeoning literature has used it to study institutions contained in single documents and to conduct comparative institutional analysis across multiple countries and time periods. Moreover, rapid advances in text analysis and computational methods are creating new analytic opportunities to study rules, norms and strategies by leveraging the IG syntax. At this stage, it is important to assess the existing literature to understand how the IG has supported institutional analysis across a variety of contexts, including commons governance. Based on a corpus of 48 empirical articles published between 2010 and 2021, we explore how analysts have operationalized institutional statements using the IG. We also synthesize the IG-based metrics and theoretical concepts developed in these articles to illustrate the contributions of IG for measurement of challenging concepts such as polycentricity, discretion, and compliance, among others. Our findings indicate that the IG is a flexible and adaptable tool for institutional analysis, especially for making empirical contributions from text-based data, and it holds promise toward building a potentially new emerging subfield we call Computational Institutional Analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)256-270
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of the Commons
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2023


  • institutional analysis and development
  • institutional design
  • institutional grammar
  • policy analysis
  • text analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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