Ed Miles
Climate Impacts Group
Seminar April 11 2001

Riddles of Institutional Design: From Global to Local Space Scales

Some social scientists believe that institutions are such fundamental building blocks of society that they always develop organically out of some given context over long periods of time. Others, among whom I count myself, argue that, while the above is true, it is not the whole story. It is possible to design institutions deliberately to perform specific jobs and have them work. The question what makes institutions effective relative to assigned jobs is an empirical question capable of being probed and answered. Furthermore, such research can yeild cumulative results which can be used as a basis for deriving principles of institutional design which can be applied to make institutions function more effectively. My presentation will first define "institution" as a technical term in the social sciences and "effective performance". Then I will present the results of this work done in the 1990's. Finally, I will attempt to derive some design principles for application to the system of managing water resources in the PNW, assuming the climate change scenario CIG has worked out for the 2020's will actually emerge.