Polycentric System of Governance

Polycentric system of governance is a complex form of governance with multiple centers of semiautonomous decision making, operating under an overarching set of rules that act as a framework allowing the centers mentioned above take each other into account in competitive and cooperative relationships and have recourse to conflict resolution mechanisms.

Here you will learn about ideas of the polycentric governance that we draw upon. Our own Mariposa Polycentric System of Governance will be explained in our master plan that will appear on this website a bit later.

Polycentric System of Governance is a form of Competitive Governance you can learn more about at another resource page on this website.

"The term polycentricity was first used in essays Michael Polanyi published as The Logic of Liberty (1951) to describe a method of social organization in which individuals are free to pursue their objectives within a general system of rules (Polanyi, 1951; see also V. Ostrom, 1999a). A decade after the publication of The Logic of Liberty, V. Ostrom et al. (1961) adopted the term polycentricity to describe a form of organization in metropolitan-area governance characterized by a multiplicity of overlapping political units. V. Ostrom et al. (1961) argued that this seemingly inefficient configuration of political units could achieve greater efficiency in the production and provision of public goods and services than a centralized government if certain market-like characteristics were present. " ( K. Carlisle & R. Gruby, 2019)

In the video below you will learn about how polycentric law solves the problems of "Single Power" such as government corruption, and how polycentricity provides genuine reciprocity, checks, and balances.

Polycentric Legal Order:

We are not affiliated with the next speaker and don't approve his actions in the world, however, we believe that his TEDx talk that explains the importance of decentralization deserves your attention.

The four pillars of a decentralized society:

In the article Polycentricity: From Polanyi to Ostrom, and Beyond" Ostroms' followers Paul D. Aligica and Vlad Tarko further elaborated the concept of a polycentric system of governance, defining the necessary conditions for polycentricity.

The Necessary Conditions for Polycentricity:

D. Aligica and Vlad Tarko also described potential differences between various instances of polycentricity and discovered that "the logic structure derived from the paradigmatic cases considered, allows for 288 different possible types of polycentric systems" (Paul D. Aligica & Vlad Tarko, 2012).

Interesting that Paul D. Aligica and Vlad Tarko also mentioned that "the concept [of polycentricity in governance] is often recognized as important". Yet, at the moment, we are not aware of any polycentric governance model implemented in the world. We might be the first to do it.


In this book, legal scholar Randy Barnett elaborates and defends the fundamental premise of the Declaration of Independence: that all persons have a natural right to pursue happiness so long as they respect the equal rights of others, and that governments are only justly established to secure these rights.

Drawing upon insights from philosophy, economics, political theory, and law, Barnett explains why, when people pursue happiness while living in society with each other, they confront the pervasive social problems of knowledge, interest and power. These problems are best dealt with by ensuring the liberty of the people to pursue their own ends, but this liberty is distinguished from "license" by certain fundamental rights and procedures associated with the classical liberal conception of "justice" and "the rule of law." He then outlines the constitutional framework that is needed to put these principles into practice.

In a new Afterword to this second edition, Barnett elaborates on this thesis by responding to several important criticisms of the original work. He then explains how this "libertarian" approach is more modest than either the "social justice" theories of the left or the "legal moralism" of the right.