Elinor Ostrom (“for her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons”) and Oliver E. Williamson (“for his analysis of economic governance, especially the boundaries of the firm”) are the 2009 winners of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences.
“Economic governance: the organization of cooperation
Elinor Ostrom has demonstrated how common property can be successfully managed by user associations. Oliver Williamson has developed a theory where business firms serve as structures for conflict resolution. Over the last three decades these seminal contributions have advanced economic governance research from the fringe to the forefront of scientific attention.
Economic transactions take place not only in markets, but also within firms, associations, households, and agencies. Whereas economic theory has comprehensively illuminated the virtues and limitations of markets, it has traditionally paid less attention to other institutional arrangements. The research of Elinor Ostrom and Oliver Williamson demonstrates that economic analysis can shed light on most forms of social organization.”
Here is a very insightful and sometimes funny Nobel Prize website interview with Elinor Ostrom talks about resource governance (including lobster fishery, irrigation system). Elinor also studied Economics with Armen Alchian and others. (Extra reading material on Armen.)
Here is Paul Kruigman’s (Nobel 2008) take on the prize winners and their work.
P.S. Here is something more I wrote about Armen,
UCLA economists Armen Alchian and many of his students, including Steven N. S. Cheung, are known by their abilities to ask deep and simple (child-like) questions to bring out new perspective and new angles to look at things. Alchian helped clarified many economists’ confusion with respect to “Utility” in the early days. May be we have something to learn from them all.
Nov 25, 2009 Update:
Indiana University’s Elinor Ostrom speaks about the award Monday, Oct. 12 at Indiana University (YouTube video)
Berkeley Prof. Williamson’s Nobel Prize day highlights YouTube video
UC Berkeley Professor Oliver Williamson wins the 2009 Nobel Prize in Economics (YouTube video)