2009年10月13日 星期二

Ostrom, Williamson Win Nobel Economics Prize

2009年 10月 13日 09:46
Ostrom, Williamson Win Nobel Economics Prize

Two U.S. economists, Elinor Ostrom and Oliver Williamson, who study the way decisions are made outside the markets on which many other economists focus, were awarded the Nobel Prize in economics Monday.

Ostrom, who teaches at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind., is the first woman to win the prize, which, before Monday, had been awarded to 62 men since it was launched in 1969 to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Swedish bank. The judges cited 'her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons,' the way in which natural resources are managed as shared resources. It's an area of research that she said was relevant to questions surrounding global warming, and suggests that decisions by individuals can help solve the problem even as governments work to reach an international agreement.

Ostrom's work challenged the view that when people share a finite resource, they'll end up destroying it. Such 'a tragedy of the commons' argues that resources that are important for the common good need to be highly regulated, or privatized. Ostrom spent years in the field.

'Based on numerous studies of user-managed fish stocks, pastures, woods, lakes, and groundwater basins, Ostrom concludes that the outcomes are, more often than not, better than predicted by standard theories,' the Nobel judges noted.

That's because over time, people often develop institutions, social networks and ways of interacting that solves the problem. Lobstermen in Maine, for example, have come to informally regulate, and restrict entry to, the areas where they work. Where these 'lobster gangs' are prevalent, there are more lobsters.

On a larger scale, these social networks don't always work as well, notes Yale University environmental economist Matthew Kotchen - there are fewer lobsters, for example, further away from Maine harbors. What's important, he says, is that Ostrom's work points out the importance of the networks that many economists had ignored, in part, because they couldn't come up with elegant models to describe how they worked.

'Just because you don't know how to model them doesn't mean you can ignore them,' he said.

Ostrom, who was interviewed by phone during the announcement press conference in Stockholm, described the prize as 'an immense surprise,' and said, 'I'm still a little bit in shock.' Her University of California at Los Angeles Ph.D. is in political science, but she said she considers herself a political economist.

Williamson, who teaches at the University of California at Berkeley and earned his Ph.D. at Pittsburgh's Carnegie-Mellon Univesrity, was cited for 'for his analysis of economic governance, especially the boundaries of the firm' - the reason some economic decisions are made at arm's length in markets and others are made inside a corporation.

Williamson's work stems from time he spent in the late 1960s working in the Department of Justice's Antitrust Division, and noticing that there was little attention to the internal workings of companies.

'The way economists used to think of the firm was as a black box that transfers inputs into outputs, and they didn't look inside,' explained Williamson, who was woken up by the call from the Nobel committee at what was 3:30 in the morning his time. 'We opened up the black box.'

What he found was that many economic decisions that standard theory said would be more efficiently left to the market place were actually better left within a firm.

'Competitive markets work relatively well because buyers and sellers can turn to other trading partners in case of dissent,' the Nobel judges said. 'But when market competition is limited, firms are better suited for conflict resolution than markets.'

The economics prize is one of six Nobel prizes not created in Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel's 1896 will, and officially known as the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2009.

The two economists will share a 10-million kronor ($1.42 million) prize. Ostrom said she hopes to devote the proceeds to supporting research and graduate students.

Justin Lahart

2009年 10月 13日 09:46

位美國經濟學家埃莉諾﹒奧斯特羅姆(Elinor Ostrom)和奧利弗﹒威廉姆森(Oliver Williamson)周一獲諾貝爾經濟學獎,他們的研究領域是其他很多經濟學家關注的市場之外的決策過程。

奧 斯特羅姆現為印第安納大學伯明頓分校教授,是第一位獲諾貝爾經濟學獎的女性。1969年,為慶祝瑞典中央銀行成立300周年而設立了諾貝爾經濟學獎。到目 前為止,該獎曾被授予62位男性。評審人員說,奧斯特羅姆因對經濟治理、尤其是自然資源作為共享資源加以管理的方式的研究而獲獎。奧斯特羅姆說,這個研究 領域與全球變暖相關問題有關,在各國政府努力達成一項國際協議之際,個人的決定也可以幫助解決這一問題。




耶 魯大學環境經濟學家柯秦(Matthew Kotchen)說,更大范圍來看,這類社會網絡並不總能產生良好效果。舉例來講,距離緬因港口更遠的地方,龍蝦更少。他說,更重要的是,奧斯特羅姆的工 作指出了很多經濟學家忽略了的社會網絡的重要性,原因之一是這些經濟學家無法開發出準確的模型來描述社會網絡的運作方式。





Associated Press



諾貝爾經濟學獎是六項諾貝爾獎中唯一不是1896年瑞典工業家阿爾弗雷德﹒諾貝爾(Alfred Nobel)遺囑中提到的獎項。該獎項的正式名稱是“瑞典中央銀行紀念阿爾弗雷德﹒諾貝爾經濟學獎”。


Justin Lahart