For the first time ever the Nobel Prize for Economics has been won by a woman.
Professor Elinor Ostrom, from Indiana University, has been given the award jointly with another American, Professor Oliver Williamson formerly of the University of California at Berkeley.
The final prize of the Nobel season, which is worth almost one million euros, has been given for their work on economic analysis and how it can shed light on the workings of society and companies.
Professor Ostrom said: “My first reaction was a great, great surprise and appreciation. There are many, many people who have struggled mightily, and to be chosen for this prize is a great honour and I’m still a little bit in shock.”
She defied conventional wisdom with studies showing user-managed property – such as fish stocks or common grazing land – is mostly well run and seldom benefits from privatisation or government regulation.
Professor Oliver Williamson is an expert on conflict resolution particularly within companies.
This continued the trend of Nobel prizes going to Americans, nine of the 11 laureates last week were US citizens, including President Barack Obama who sensationally won the prestigious Peace Prize.