Elinor Ostrom Lifetime Achievement Award 2021 to Avner Greif and Gary Libecap

Avner Greif (left) and Gary Libecap

By Tore Ellingsen

The Elinor Ostrom Lifetime Achievement Award is awarded biannually for sustained significant academic contributions to institutional and organizational economics. It is open to anyone. In 2021, for the first time, there are two recipients: Avner Greif and Gary Libecap.

Avner Greif is the Bowman Family Professor in the Humanities and Sciences at Department of Economics, Stanford University.

Greif’s research has enhanced our understanding of how institutions consist of much more than just the formal rules of the game; they also comprise shared beliefs, social norms, and cognition. Specifically, Greif pioneered the use of game theory to study the organization of long-distance trade, the role of guilds, and other historically important institutions. We are indebted to his outstanding academic leadership, spanning economics, game theory, history, political science, sociology, and law. Greif is the author of Institutions and the Path to the Modern Economy: Lessons from Medieval Trade (2006, Cambridge), co-author of Analytic Narratives (1998, Princeton), and co-editor of Institutions, Innovation, and Industrialization: Essays in Economic History and Development (2015, Princeton). Greif has won numerous awards, including the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, American Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellowship, the Gyorgi Ranki Biennial Prize for an Outstanding Book on the Economic History of Europe (EHA), Veblen 150 Prize (Association for Evolutionary Economics).

Gary Libecap is Distinguished Professor, Emeritus, Bren School of Environmental Science and Management and Department of Economics, University of California, Santa Barbara.

Libecap’s research has illuminated the economics and politics of property institutions pertaining to land, natural resources, and the environment. His analysis has uncovered causes and consequences of property rights regimes in marine fisheries, oil and gas production, Native American tribal land, soil conservation, water markets, land demarcation, climate policy, and water markets. Thanks to his work, we now better understand when and to what degree private contracting can solve the problems associated with open-access exploitation of natural resources. Libecap is the author of Contracting for Property Rights (1989, Cambridge), and a co-author of The Federal Civil Service System and the Problem of Bureaucracy: The Economics and Politics of Institutional Change, (1994, Chicago) and Titles, Conflict and Land Use: The Development of Property Rights and Land Reform on the Brazilian Amazon Frontier (1999, Michigan). Libecap has served as President of three scientific associations: Economic History Association, Western Economics Association International, and International Society for the New Institutional Economics (the former incarnation of SIOE).