The Institutional Analysis and Design Approach


The IAD provides a conceptual map for understanding how institutions, which include public policies, are designed, how people interact in creating and devising policies, and how policy analysts can evaluate policies. At the time of the creation of the IAD framework, much of the policy literature were relatively institutions-free or did not explicitly recognize the institutional foundations of public policies.  The IAD explores some of the main ideas and contributions of the Ostrom Workshop, namely political theory, politics as the art and science of association, polycentricity, methodological individualism, and behavioral rational choice. Ostrom stressed on the importance of political theory in the study of public policy, which resulted in developing the following theories to analyse public policy.


a.       Behavioral Rational Choice

b.       Polycentric theory

c.       The theory of commons

d.       Theories of Collective Action

e.       Evolution theory


The IAD framework was developed by the work of scholars in the Ostrom workshop in political theory and policy analysis. For the first time it was presented in the work of Kiser and Ostrom in 1982. The framework attempts to explain how collective decisions are made as a result of the individuals’ interactions. It further explains how institutions contribute to shaping the interests and interactions of the actors.

The IAD framework breaks down the works of institutions, using a systematic approach that is based on input, process, output, and feedback cycle. The inputs include the external variables or contextual factors that influence the individual actors. The process is the interaction of the actors among each other. The output of this process is the collective decisions that will be implemented, enforced and evaluated against some criteria.

The IAD framework has significant implications in public policy analysis. Many Ph.D. students and researchers have applied it to the study of public policy in areas such as polycentricity in the United States, decentralization in Nepal and, Health policy in South Africa among others. 

In the video below, Eduardo Araral talks about the IAD framework during the First International Conference on Public Policy. 




Eduardo Araral earned his Ph.D. in Public Policy from Indiana University-Bloomington on a Fulbright Ph.D. Scholarship with Elinor Ostrom (2009 Nobel Laureate in Economics) as his mentor. He is a theoretician and a practitioner. As a theoretician, he specializes in the study of the causes and consequences of institutions for collective action and the governance of the commons. He has published in 20 journals and 17 other publications and presented in 40 conferences. Araral has received 12 awards and recognitions including fellowships from the research centers of three Nobel Laureates (Economics), the Ostrom Prize for the Governance of the Commons, Fulbright Ph.D. Awards, a US National Science Foundation Grant, Finalist in the Best Dissertation Prize in Institutional Analysis, and Finalist in the Suez Water Prize.

Eduardo has served as Strategy Adviser to Kazakhstan's Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Development as well as to the Government of Vietnam for public administration reform. Besides, Ed has undertaken 18 consultancy projects for Asian Development Bank, World Bank, UNDP, local governments and NGOs.

He is also a faculty associate at the Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, the Coase Institute, LKYSPP Institute of Water Policy and a visiting researcher at the University of Paris-Sorbonne

His service/leadership record includes stints as Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs at the LKYSPP, chair of several faculty committees, faculty representative to the NUS Senate, University Committee on Education Policy and the Board of Graduate Studies. He is currently Faculty Adviser to the LKYSPP Executive Education Program and Coordinator for the Nazarbayev University Graduate School of Public Policy. He is a member of 3 Editorial Boards including the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory and the board of the Public Management Research Association, as a peer reviewer for 18 journals and as a resource person for local and international media.



Araral and Amri on “Institutions and the policy process 2.0: Implications of the IAD Framework.” 2016


Heikkila and Andersson on “Policy design and the added-value of the institutional analysis development framework.” Policy & Politics. 2018


Kiser and Ostrom on “The three worlds of action: A metatheoretical synthesis of institutional approaches”. In Strategies of political inquiry, ed. Elinor Ostrom. Beverly Hills: Sage Publications. 1982


Ostrom, Gardner, and Walker on “Rules, games, and common-pool resources”. University of Michigan Press. 1994



Araral, E., & Amri, M. (2016). Institutions and the policy process 2.0: Implications of the IAD Framework. In Contemporary approaches to public policy (pp. 73-93). Palgrave Macmillan, London.


Heikkila, T., & Andersson, K. (2018). Policy design and the added-value of the institutional analysis development framework. Policy & Politics, 46(2), 309-324.


In the video below, Eduardo Araral talks about the IAD framework during the First International Conference on Public Policy.