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The governance of almost all complex social or natural resource systems is polycentric: it involves distributed, nested and partially overlapping patterns of competitive and cooperative relationships among relatively autonomous private and public actors, operating at different levels, within a set of overarching rules.

Yet our understanding of the variety and evolution of such governance arrangements, and our capacity to evaluate their operation and performance, remain in its infancy. As Elinor Ostrom observed, this state of affairs is to a large extent imputable to the tendency to explain phenomena and imagine governance solutions in terms of the standard dichotomy between “private” and “public,” or “market” and “state.”

Interdisciplinary institutional research into polycentric governance is vital. Rising to the challenges facing us in the 21st century – ranging from natural resource depletion, decarbonization, food insecurity and international migration to civic disaffection, personal data management, scientific knowledge sharing and space exploration – will require viewing these pressing problems through the lens of polycentricity.

The 7th WINIR Conference explored these and other related issues. The conference took place online on four afternoons from Tuesday 6 to Friday 9 September 2022 between roughly 12pm and 6.30pm UK time (UTC+1).

Keynotes lectures were given by:

Elizabeth Baldwin (University of Arizona, USA)
Tine de Moor (Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands)
Harini Nagendra (Azim Premji University, India)

211 delegates from 29 countries attended this event.


Organising committee:
Francesca Gagliardi (, David Gindis (, Georgina Gomez (, Nadia von Jacobi (

Generous support for the WINIR Conference on Polycentric Governance & the Challenges of the 21st Century was provided by