Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Riding in cars with boys: Elinor Ostrom's adventures with the police


More than 40 years ago, Elinor Ostrom began her adventures with the police. In order to combat the conventional view that ‘bigger means better’, Ostrom pioneered a fieldwork-based framework for measuring police services that utilized consumer surveys and thereby created a community-centered model of analysis for public services. In this paper, we contend that although Ostrom's career demonstrated the importance of employing multiple methods, her most enduring contributions and legacy came from on-the-ground research. Her case studies and fieldwork proved to be necessary for examining complex systems beyond the state–market dichotomy, and these methods of analysis should be defended as critical for inquiry into the variety of institutional arrangements.

Corresponding author
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

P. Aligica and P. Boettke (2011), ‘Two Social Philosophies of the Ostroms’ Institutionalism’, Policy Studies Journal, 39 (1): 2949.

P. Boettke (2010), ‘Is the Only Form of ‘Reasonable Regulation’ Self-Regulation? Lessons From Lin Ostrom on Regulating the Commons and Cultivating Citizens’, Public Choice, 143 (3–4): 283291.

P. Boettke and C. Coyne (2005), ‘Methodological Individualism, Spontaneous Order and the Research Program of the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis’, Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 57 (2): 145158.

P. Boettke , C. Coyne , and P. Leeson (2011), ‘Quasimarket Failure’, Public Choice, 149 (1–2): 209224.

R. Herzberg and B. Allen (2012), ‘Elinor Ostrom (1933–2012)’, Public Choice, 153 (3–4): 263268.

G. Hodgson (2005), ‘Generalizing Darwinism to Social Evolution: Some Early Attempts,’ Journal of Economic Issues, 39 (4): 899914.

E. Ostrom (1990), Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action, Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.

E. Ostrom (2010), ‘Beyond Market and States: Polycentric Governance of Complex Economic Systems’, American Economic Review, 100: 641672.

E. Ostrom (2011), ‘Honoring James Buchanan’, Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 80: 370373.

E. Ostrom , R. Parks , and G. Whitaker (1973b), ‘Do We Really Want to Consolidate Urban Police Forces? A Reappraisal of Some Old Assertions’, Public Administration Review, 33 (5): 423432.

V. Ostrom , C. Tiebout , and R. Warren (1961), ‘The Organization of Government in Metropolitan Areas’, American Political Science Review, 55: 831842. Reprinted in Michael McGinnis (ed.), Polycentricity and Local Public Economies, Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1999.

E. Ostrom and G. Whitaker (1973), ‘Does Local Community Control of Police make a Difference?’, American Journal of Political Science, 17 (1): 4876. Reprinted in Michael McGinnis, ed., Polycentricity and Local Public Economies, Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1999.

R. Parks (1985), ‘Metropolitan Structure and Systemic Performance: The Case of Police Service Delivery’, in K. Hanf and T. Toonen (eds.), Policy Implementation in Federal and Unitary Systems, Dordrecht, the Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, pp. 161191.

H. A. Simon (1990), ‘Invariants of Human Behavior’, Annual Review of Psychology, 41: 119.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Institutional Economics
  • ISSN: 1744-1374
  • EISSN: 1744-1382
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-institutional-economics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 3
Total number of PDF views: 44 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 374 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 27th June 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.