Amid the controversy
about whether a man should be nominated for a million dollar Peace Prize after
less than two weeks in his new job – and then win it over people who have been
working against impossible odds for many years – it should be remembered that
other Nobel Prizes do still mean something.
In particular, our sincere and unreserved congratulations to
Professor Elinor Ostrom, the first
woman to win the Nobel Prize for Economics.
Her research has proved that “commons” – assets owned
collectively such as common lands or fisheries – tend to be managed more
efficiently by those who work them than by corporations or by bureaucrats.
One might think this conclusion was fairly obvious – we could
have told her that!
One might also think that it endorses “communism” over free
Not at all. On the contrary, her research is yet another
illustration of the great truth that was also the main reason why free market
“capitalism” triumphed over Soviet-model “communism” in the Cold War:
Resources are always
managed most efficiently when those who must make the decisions must bear the
This great truth also has an application to the management
of individual businesses:
The way to get most out of your employees is to arrange
things so that those who make decisions have a personal stake in any success or
failure that results from those decisions.
If you apply this principle and it works, feel free to write
to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Box 50005, Stockholm, and mention our
names. It is a long shot but Nobels have been awarded for less.