This four-volume compendium of papers written by Lin, alone or with various coauthors (most
notably including her husband and partner, Vincent), supplemented by others expanding
on their work, brings together the common strands of research that serve to tie her impressive oeuvre together. That oeuvre, together with Vincent's own impressive body of work, has come to define a distinctive school of political-economic thought, the "Bloomington School."
Each of the four volumes is organized around a central theme of Lin’s work. Volume 2 examines the most well-known part of Lin’s legacy: her empirical, analytical, and theoretical work demonstrating that, in many cases, local resource users can solve collective-action problems through common-property management regimes. The volume comprises various papers relating to and building on the findings of her masterpiece, Governing the Commons (1990), including some lesser-known papers. Part I focuses on the all-important distinction between biophysical resources and the humanly devised institutions designed to govern them. Part II moves to the policy level, addressing how various sets of humanly devised institutions work better or worse, in various social and ecological circumstances, for the long-run sustainability of biophysical resources. Part III takes us full circle back to Ostrom’s first work (as part of her PhD) on water resources in Southern California, which was a topic she returned to, along with her students, throughout her career (and totaling more than 50 years’ worth of studies), with the specific intention of gathering data for dynamic (or, at least, comparative static) longitudinal analyses of combined social (including institutional) and ecological change. In sum, this volume presents what is, at least at present, thought to be Lin’s greatest legacy to social science: how resources can be sustainably managed over very long periods of time by the collective action of ordinary people, in addition to or without markets and states.
Complexity Theory for a Sustainable Future is a hands-on treatment of this exciting new body of work and its applications, bridging the gap between theoretical and applied perspectives in the management of complex adaptive systems. Focusing primarily on natural resource management and community-based conservation, the book features contributions by leading scholars in the field, many of whom are among the leaders of the Resilience Alliance. Theoreticians will find a valuable synthesis of new ideas on resilience, sustainability, asymmetries, information processing, scaling, and networks. Managers and policymakers will benefit from the application of these ideas to practical approaches and empirical studies linked to social-ecological systems. Chapters present new twists on such existing approaches as scenario planning, scaling analyses, and adaptive management, and the book concludes with recommendations on how to manage natural resources, how to involve stakeholders in the dynamics of a system, and how to explain the difficult topic of scale. A vital reference for an emerging discipline, this volume provides a clearer understanding of the conditions required for systems self-organization, since the capacity of any system to self-organize is crucial for its sustainability over time.