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People don't talk in institutional statements: A methodological case study of the Institutional Analysis and Development Framework

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Watkins, Cristy; Westphal, Lynne M.

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Policy Studies Journal. 25 p.


In this paper, we describe our application of Ostrom et al.'s ADICO syntax, a grammatical tool based in the Institutional Analysis and Development framework, to a study of ecological restoration decision making in the Chicago Wilderness region. As this method has only been used to look at written policy and/or extractive natural resource management systems, our application is novel in context (a value-adding environmental management action), data type (in-depth, qualitative interviews, and participant observation), and extent of institutional statement extraction (we extract rules, as well as norms and strategies). Through detailed description, visual aids, and case-specific qualitative examples, we show the usefulness of the ADICO syntax in detailing the full set of institutional statements-in-use: rules, norms, and strategies. One of the most interesting findings is that we found norms (and not just rules) to be prevalent and particularly meaningful guides for people’s actions. This reinforces the need to address norms and strategies, not only rules, when developing effective policy.


ADICO syntax; institutional analysis and development; norms; ecological restoration; qualitative data


Watkins, Cristy; Westphal, Lynne M. 2015. People Don't Talk in Institutional Statements: A Methodological Case Study of the Institutional Analysis and Development Framework. Policy Studies Journal: 25 p.

Last updated on: November 7, 2016