A Multi-Tier Framework for Analyzing Linked Social-Ecological Systems

Friday Seminar by Elinor Ostrom.



This paper challenges the presumption that scholars have the tools to make simple, predictive models of social-ecological systems (SESs) and deduce universal solutions, panaceas, to problems of overuse or destruction of resources. Moving beyond panaceas to develop cumulative capacities to diagnose the problems and potentialities of linked SESs requires serious study of these complex, multivariable, nonlinear, cross-scale, and changing systems. Many variables have been identified by researchers as affecting the patterns of interactions and outcomes observed in empirical studies of SESs. A step toward developing a diagnostic method is taken by organizing these variables in a nested, multitier framework. The framework enables scholars to organize analyses of how attributes of

• a resource system (e.g., fishery, lake, grazing area),
• the resource units produced by that system (e.g., fish, water, fodder),
• the users of that system, and
• the governance system jointly affect

(and are indirectly affected through feedback from) the patterns of interactions and resulting outcomes achieved at a particular time and place and how these may affect and be affected by larger or smaller socioeconomic and political settings in which they are embedded as well as by a larger or smaller ecological system. The framework is intended to be a step toward building a strong interdisciplinary science of complex, multilevel systems that will enable future diagnosticians to match potential solutions to specific problems embedded in a social-ecological context.

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The CEES seminar room has a coffee-machine – it is therefore recommended that you come a bit earlier and get yourself a good cup of coffee (for the price of 3 NOK).


Published Feb. 2, 2012 3:30 PM - Last modified Jan. 18, 2013 3:12 PM