Type of Work

Research Paper

Publication Date



When might competition and conflict between governing bodies improve social services? F.A. Hayek exemplifies the view that economic competition leads to results that embody more knowledge than what anyone involved had before competing. Elinor Ostrom and the Bloomington School extended Hayek’s theory to governing bodies, advocating for more decentralized, “polycentric” governments that encourage “experimental efforts at multiple levels.” This paper uses the polycentricity theory to analyze how different conceptions of homelessness have come into conflict throughout Utica’s polycentric social service sector. I study how the introduction of new service providers like the Morrow Warming Center generated brand new information about different policies’ effects after becoming a new low-barrier shelter in Utica, changing the structure of other overlapping organizations. I find that organizations can best coordinate with their competitors when there is another organization that can mediate their disputes. However, these mediations are not always consistent or clear throughout the social service sector in Utica. To improve coordination, members of the Mohawk Valley Housing and Homeless Coalition might offer to help make compromises between other members with overlapping services or jurisdictions. Conflict between different perspectives is inevitable; it is especially important to manage those conflicts when they determine the well-beings of some of the least well-off: people experiencing homelessness.

Hamilton Areas of Study


Hamilton Sponsoring Organization

Levitt Public Affairs Center

Hamilton Scholarship Series

Levitt Summer Research Fellowship

Hamilton Faculty Advisor

Frank Anechiarico