Sub-theme 11. Advances in Frameworks and Theory
Harnessing the Institutional Grammar to investigate collective action dilemmas in the commons
Crawford and Ostrom (1995) advanced the Institutional Grammar (IG) as a tool to analyze the syntax of institutional statements, thereby enabling the identification of institutional components and ability to sort statements by function and form. The IG’s portability and plasticity is facilitated by its linkage to the Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) framework where it helps identify rule types that regulate/influence behavior and decision-making in action situations.
Subsequent modifications streamlined the IG’s applicability and usefulness, including Frantz and Siddiki’s (2022) IG 2.0 which expanded the syntax from regulative (prescribe actions) to constitutive statements (outline system components), and accommodates various levels of structural parsing and linkages to other relevant statements (e.g., monitoring, compliance) that are internal and external to the examined text. With these modifications, there is new opportunity for investigating the design and impacts of institutions governing commons dilemmas, thus advancing theories that posit variables predictive of positive or negative collective action outcomes.
This panel welcomes papers that apply the IG toward the study of commons governance. We are interested in papers that (1) apply the IG in conjunction with another theory or framework (e.g., IAD, SES, NIPE) to provide insights about aspects of the IG that are more or less suited to the study of institutional arrangements governing commons dilemmas; or (2) shed light on advancements that can be made in the study of the commons by drawing on syntactic-based institutional language assessments.
Panel 11.8. A
1. A review of typology rules
1University of Zaragoza, Spain, 2AgriFood Institute of Aragon, University of Zaragoza, Spain
Ostrom and Crawford’s rules typology is essential to understand institutional configurations and decisional processes during collective actions. However, to study the diversity of rules-in-use and to facilitate the codification of rules and the use of the institutional grammar, there is an imperative need to broaden and specify the rules typology. Here, we carried out a systematic review complemented with the analysis of written ordinances to classify the seven types of rules into second-tier rules. We reviewed 107 scientific papers focused on describing rules and norms used by local communities from a variety of sectors such as energy, land management, water management, or transportation, among others. In addition, we reviewed written ordinances of a variety of social-ecological systems, including agricultural, livestock, fisheries and forestry systems. We first coded both the scientific papers and the written ordinances to extract all the positon, boundary, choice, information, aggregation, scope and pay-off rules used in each case study. Then, the coded rules were grouped based on their similarity to create a first classification of second-tier rules. For example, boundary rules describing the requirements and processes to enter and leave a certain position were grouped as two tiers: enter and leave. We then used the deontic, aim and or-else components of the institutional grammar to complete the second-tier rules typology.
2. Nudging people to talk in institutional statements: tips from experiences interviewing farmers
1AgriFood Institute of Aragon, University of Zaragoza, Spain, 2University of Zaragoza, Spain
Watkins and Westphal (2016)’s work was a pioneering study using in-depth qualitative interviews to extract institutional statements from interview data. They highlighted the challenges and, at the same time, the great potential of applying the grammar of institutions with data type based on in-depth, qualitative interviews and participant observation. Here, based on their work and our experience analyzing institutions in agricultural systems, we give a series of recommendations on how to collect institutional statements from interviews with stakeholders and subsequently analyze the interview transcripts with the institutional grammar. Our recommendations are focused on key aspects of the design and implementation of qualitative interviews and they aim to: 1) maximize the number of institutional statements collected, 2) clearly distinguish between rules, norms, and strategies, 3) maximize the number of grammar elements and thus avoid the overuse of default conditions, and 4) correctly classifying rules typology. Although our experience is focused on interviewing farmers, most of these recommendations can be applied to study other types of systems or collective action dilemmas in the commons.
3. Using the institutional grammar to understand collective resource management in a cooperative of gig workers
Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, Netherlands
Worker cooperatives have emerged as collective good producers in the gig economy, by providing their membership with higher quality working conditions that may especially be in demand during crises. This raises the question of how such cooperatives design institutional arrangements to address opportunism in a heterogeneous group and evolve in the face of external shocks. We study the case of Smart Belgium between 2016 and 2022, thereby covering the period before, during, and after the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Building on the institutional grammar methodology, we analyse the regulations set up by Smart. Besides contributing a better understanding of how institutional arrangements address opportunistic behaviour in heterogeneous groups and evolve in the face of external shocks, the paper also advances the institutional grammar’s ability to measure institutional meaning at the component-level by integrating various semantic classifications.
Panel 11.8. B
1. Institutional Play within the Feedback System: Synergy between the Coupled Infrastructure Framework and Institutional Grammar
Arizona State University, USA
This research theoretically examines the potential for synergy between the Coupled Infrastructure Framework (Anderies et al., 2016) and Institutional Grammar 2.0 (Frantz & Siddiki, 2002; Crawford & Ostrom, 1995), both of which are based on the Institutional Analysis and Development framework (Kiser & Ostrom, 1982).
The CIS focuses on how natural (ecosystem), hard human-made (technology), and soft human-made (institutions) infrastructures interact dynamically to address commons dilemmas using regulatory feedback networks. As a result of the IAD’s observation of two types of feedback systems—one that is fast and sends signals back to the action situation, and another that is slow and sends signals back to CIS infrastructures—the CIS focuses on the slower loop.
In the CIS literature, rather than discussing soft human-made infrastructure, most debates have focused on institutions as a by-product of human and social infrastructure. Furthermore, as CIS primarily focuses on “rules-in-use,” which cannot be mutually exclusive from “rules-in-form,” and on an “institutions as rules” perspective based on the rule typology, we should include the potential for feedback mechanisms of soft human-made infrastructure per se.
In the “institutional play” stage, we will discuss the meta-institutional features of IG 2.0, such as meta-institutional functions such as parameterizing or regulating, and how they might act as a catalyst for enhancing connections between institutions and the networks or systems of institutions as a whole within the CIS framework. In addition, we will discuss the dynamics of soft human-made infrastructure with a focus on the large-scale structural components of institutional design.
2. Integration of the informal waste sector in India, Chennai: summing up insights from an agent-based model and a network analysis
1Delft University of Technology, Netherlands, 2Leiden University, Netherlands
The informal waste sector is vital in managing consumer waste in many developing countries, including India. However, waste pickers who are positioned at the end of this informal recycling chain endure harsh working conditions, such as health hazards and low income. Focusing on the waste management system of Chennai, India, this research conducted two parallel studies. First, an agent-based model was built to compare four institutional strategies: ‘discouraging the informal sector’, ‘empowering and prioritizing the informal economy’, ‘improving picking conditions’ and ‘supporting higher level aggregators’. The outcomes showed that policies that aim at improving picking conditions lead to better social, economic and environmental conditions. Second, to gain insights into institutional barriers that hinder the implementation of integration policies, we conducted a network analysis. The network analysis results highlighted misalignments between those who devise policies and those who carry them out. In other words, the national government mandated the formal recognition of waste pickers, which could lead to better health, social and economic conditions, several years ago (2016). Yet, the municipality of Chennai does not carry out the formalization procedure (e.g. issuing ID cards). Furthermore, even if the municipality implements the procedure, there is a lack of trust in public bodies among waste pickers that demotivates them from becoming formally recognized. The combination of these insights suggests that policies that improve picking conditions are only successful if they are supported by subnational entities and carried out in an inclusive and trust-building environment.
3. Evolving Institutional Grammar Research
1Syracuse University, USA, 2Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway, 3Arizona State University, USA
Crawford and Ostrom advanced the Institutional Grammar (IG) in 1995 to conceptualize institutional statements–configurations of syntactic elements that prescribe, prohibit, or permit actors’ actions or outcomes–by their syntactic elements. The IG has since evolved into a tool that allows the rigorous parsing and comparison of institutional statements to better understand institutional (e.g., laws, legislation) design and its influence on decision-making and behavior. Recent IG refinements further streamline its ontological consistency, clarify its syntactic components, and link it to varying expressiveness levels that correspond with increasingly detailed parsing designed to facilitate computer-assisted analysis. Our presentation reports on the evolution of the IG and the research that is being fostered by the Institutional Grammar Research Initiative (IGRI). The IGRI brings together scholars interested in the study and practice of institutional analysis using the IG, including further advancements to IG applicability and dissemination of its knowledge. We will highlight groundbreaking IGRI research and provide avenues to become engaged in IG-related research. Additionally, we will introduce a related research initiative, the Computational Institutional Science Lab (CISL), which provides a venue for those engaged in/excited about using computational tools (e.g., AI, modeling) to use those methods to gain a better understanding of institutions, specifically, how they emerge, their design, implementation, change, and influence behavior. In combination, IGRI and CISL represent collaborative forums for scholars, practitioners, and policymakers to share research, experiences, methods, and learn about institutional design and its effect on implementation and policy outcomes.
4. How and When We Copy Each Other? Rule Design in Natural Resource Districts
1University of Georgia, USA, 2Florida Atlantic University, USA
Collaborative governance has been touted as an important tool to address issues of transboundary water governance and management. In the last decades, state governments throughout the U.S. have developed collaborative initiatives for addressing issues of water quality and water quantity. However, questions remain about the fit between such initiatives, the biophysical problems they are meant to address, and the contexts in which they operate. It is therefore important to uncover how a collaborative arrangement designs its programs and rules to fit their social and ecological environments. In this paper, we address this gap by examining the design of Natural Resource Districts (NRDs) in Nebraska.
NRDs were created in accordance with naturally delineated river basins on the premise that problems within a basin can be more effectively dealt with locally. To assess the institutional fit of NRDs, we analyze: (1) Integrated Management Plans, which guide planning and decision-making, and (2) Rules and Regulations, which regulate behavior by defining how to address a range of environmental problems. We use natural language processing tools to examine the variations in plans across NRDs. Then, we use the Institutional Grammar Tool and network modeling to examine how variations in rule design may help explain institutional design choices in the face of different social and ecological pressures. This study contributes to the collaborative governance literature by exploring a large-scale policy level collaborative arrangement, with a special emphasis on the institutional arrangements that guide and constrain the functioning and consequently the outcomes of this arrangement.
5. Institutions for sustainable urban mobility: A network analysis approach
1LUT University, Finland, 2TU Delft, Netherlands
In recent years the mobility system in cities has been challenged, following tightening climate targets and an increasing concern for global sustainability. Following ongoing urbanization, the demand for mobility is moreover likely to rise, making urban mobility a major challenge for cities across the globe.
To tackle these problems, current mobility systems should be radically transformed, with the goal to reduce the number of cars and CO2 emissions and make cities more livable. To transform mobility in a way that moves us away from the car requires new technical solutions, but more importantly, it requires changes to mobility as an institution, commoning mobility.
Institutions, understood as the rules, strategies, and norms that guide our individual and collective behaviour, are essential to the governance of sustainability. In this paper we apply institutional analysis coupled with institutional network analysis to an in-depth case study of urban mobility systems in major Finnish cities. The paper incorporates the more recent version of the Institutional Grammar 2.0 to examine how institutional design helps mobilize individual and collective behavior, supporting the transition to sustainable urban mobility and changing the meaning of mobility.
We draw on extensive interview and archival data to understand how the meaning of mobility is formed, generating new insights about the link between institutional design and societal transformation. Our analysis focuses on actors’ compliance with institutions, distinguishing between rules in-form and rules in-use, and examining the variation of uptake and its impact on mobility as an institution.