Call for Papers

CfP: Methods and data for longitudinal analysis of Institutions for Collective Action

8-10 December 2021, the HAGUE, Netherlands


We are organizing a specialized workshop dedicated to the study of institutions for collective action, or institutional arrangements that are formed by groups of people in order to overcome certain common problems over an extended period of time by setting certain rules regarding access to the group (membership), use of the resources and services the group owns collectively, and management of these resources and services.


Essential to the approach underlying this workshop is the fact that we look at institutions for collective action from a long-term perspective, in order to get a better idea of what makes such organisations resilient. Our motivation to use this longitudinal lens lays has to do with the development of such institutions (an institution needs time to get in shape and fit the needs of those involved) and their speed of change and adaptation. ICAs often change slowly as a (semi-) democratic process for the change of rules requires time-consuming consultation of all the stakeholders involved. Furthermore, we also use longevity as a measure of success: once well in place, the success of such institutions can to a certain extend be measured by their duration. In many cases such institutions have survived for centuries, with in particular external force leading to their dissolution.


We thus take the study of institutions for collective action way back in time, even to the early modern history, to follow institutional development over several hundreds of years. By following institutional developments over long-time horizons, and in combination with an examination of the stimulating and/or threatening factors that these institutions were dealing with, we can understand what makes cooperation within these institutions successful and when it fails.


Tracing institutional development over time by looking back into history and potentially even forecasting their future development is challenging. Longitudinal institutional analysis mostly deals with qualitative data, and at times incomplete pieces of information. Therefore, advanced methods and data analytical techniques are required to deal with such methodological complexities. Forsman et al. (2020), for example, have used analogies with biological systems to study the evolution of institutions, Ale Ebrahim et al. (2021) and Frantz et al. (2014) use agent-based modelling and simulation to trace links between general institutional patterns and individual behaviour; Farjam et al. (2020) use machine learning and advance data analytical techniques to quantitatively study patterns of institutional evolution using extensive historical data.


The goal of this workshop is to stimulate discussion on how existing methods in other disciplines can be used for the longitudinal study of ICAs, and how innovative methodological solutions can be developed for studying ICA.


The topics covered in this workshop include, but are not limited to:

  1. Innovative methods to analyse the dynamics of long-enduring ICAs
    1. Techniques to combine qualitative (e.g. ethnography) and quantitative tools (ABM) for studying ICAs
    2. Machine learning techniques for studying longitudinal data
  2. Longitudinal data collection of ICAs
    1. The construction and use of datasets about the long-term development of ICAs
    2. Specific case studies that allow for longitudinal study of the internal organization of ICAs

During the workshop, we will work with (historical) databases of ICAs, on-site, to better grasp the challenges in this context.


Important dates:

  • Abstracts (approx. 1000 words): 30 September 2021 to be sent to
  • Extended Abstract (approx. 5000 words): 29 November 2021
  • Conference: 8-10 December 2021 (arrival evening 7th of December)
  • Optional: submission of full paper after the conference to be published in a special issue.


The conference location will in case of a physical meeting be in The Hague, Netherlands, within reach of public transport. The number of participants will be limited, allowing for intense cooperation and discussion during the three conference days and allowing also for maximum health and safety measures. Because of this, participants will also be required to remain on the conference premises for the full three days. Further health and safety requirements will be set based on the local conditions in the weeks before the meeting. Conference costs (travel, accommodation) of paper presenters will be covered; bookings will however need to be done following instructions given by the organizers. The organizers also stress that due to specific health and safety measures selected participants can be asked not to attend the conference physically but online.


The conference is supported by the VICI project Building a UNified theory for the development and resilience of Institutions for Collective Action for Europe in the past millennium (UNICA) from the Dutch Research Council (NWO), grant nr. VI.C.191.052 and the Modelling institutional dynamics in historical commons (MIDI) project by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond.



  • Dehkordi, M. A. E., Ghorbani, A., & Bravo, G., De Moor, T., van Weeren, R., Forsman, A., Farjam, M., (2021). Long -Term Dynamics of Institutions: Using ABM as a Complementary Tool to Support Theory Development in Historical Studies, (under review).
  • Farjam, M., De Moor, T., van Weeren, R., Forsman, A., Dehkordi, M. A. E., Ghorbani, A., & Bravo, G. (2020). Shared Patterns in Long-Term Dynamics of Commons as Institutions for Collective Action. International Journal of the Commons, 14(1), 78–90. DOI:
  • Forsman A, De Moor T, van Weeren R, Bravo G, Ghorbani A, Ale Ebrahim Dehkordi M, et al. (2020) Eco-evolutionary perspectives on emergence, dispersion and dissolution of historical Dutch commons. PLoS ONE 15(7): e0236471. DOI:
  • Frantz, C., Purvis, M. K., & Nowostawski, M. (2014). Agent-Based Modeling of Information Transmission in Early Historic Trading. Social Science Computer Review, 32(3), 393–416. DOI: