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Launch of Asian Society for Institutional Analysis

07 September 2010

ASIASIA: Nobel Prize Laureate Prof Elinor Ostrom (centre) with participants at the launch
Nobel Prize Laureate Prof Elinor Ostrom spent an afternoon with PhD students from NUS' Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKY School) on 19 August 2010, marking the launch of Asia's first society on institutional analysis - the Asian Society for Institutional Analysis (ASIASIA).

Prof Ostrom, Distinguished Professor of Indiana University, Bloomington, is the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in 2009 for economics. She shares the award with Edgar F Kaiser Professor Emeritus of Business, Economics and Law at the University of California, Berkeley, Oliver Williamson. Prof Ostrom is best known for her work in illuminating the governing mechanisms of common pool resources.

In her brief address to students at LKY School, she urged them to avoid thinking of policy research as discovering a "panacea" for problems. Instead, she asked for more detailed and empirical work, to examine each situation using a general framework.

"Many people think I am advocating self-organised groups, but I am not. You have to see what works for each situation," she said. She said that in the same way, people thought "democracy" just meant having the right to vote, but that was inadequate for solving many policy problems.

Over lunch, Prof Ostrom discussed her latest book Working Together which outlines how people cooperate in different ways. She also gave advice on research methods in institutional analysis, and ideas for ASIASIA. "The society can apply institutional analysis to issues in Asia. It should also have a newsletter to record success cases," she said.

Headquartered at the LKY School, ASIASIA is a non-profit, educational membership society. Prof Ostrom is its Honorary Advisor and Assistant Dean (Academic Affairs) of LKY Sch Dr Eduardo Araral is its founding President. Aimed at promoting research on institutions in Asia, ASIASIA carries this mission by organising various workshops and conferences, recognising outstanding work of young institutional scholars in Asia and building an international network of scholars with interest or expertise in this research area.

By Ms Leong Ching and Mr Alex He Jingwei, LKY School, NUS