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The impact of culture and ecology on cooperation in a common-pool resource experiment

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  • Prediger, Sebastian
  • Vollan, Björn
  • Frölich, Markus

Abstract

Context affects decision-making in many ways. In this paper we explore differences in cooperation behaviour between communal farmers in Namibia and South Africa, who share the same ethnic origin but have had different historical and ecological constraints. We report on a series of field experiments based on a common-pool resource model. Our experimental design is framed according to the grazing situation in semi-arid rangelands. Dependent on the behaviour in previous rounds, participants are facing different states of resource availability with varying need to cooperate, coordinate and to be patient. While only 4% of the grazing areas in South Africa remain in good quality, Namibians achieve a level of 42%. We analyse the different experimental states and find that Namibians behave in all states more cooperatively. We argue that the large difference between the two regions is due to a combination of different historical developments and ecological preconditions: Namibian resource users have a longer experience in cooperative resource management and intact traditional norms. Moreover, the real-life payoffs to cooperation are higher in Namibia stemming from ecological factors.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Ecological Economics.

Volume (Year): 70 (2011)
Issue (Month): 9 (July)
Pages: 1599-1608

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:70:y:2011:i:9:p:1599-1608

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/ecolecon

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Keywords: Common-pool resource experiment Southern Africa Payoffs to cooperation Historical/political background;

References

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  8. Jeroen Bergh & Sigrid Stagl, 2003. "Coevolution of economic behaviour and institutions: towards a theory of institutional change," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 13(3), pages 289-317, August.
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Cited by:
  1. Janssen, Marco A. & Bousquet, François & Cardenas, Juan-Camilo & Castillo, Daniel & Worrapimphong, Kobchai, 2013. "Breaking the elected rules in a field experiment on forestry resources," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 132-139.
  2. Narloch, Ulf & Pascual, Unai & Drucker, Adam G., 2012. "Collective Action Dynamics under External Rewards: Experimental Insights from Andean Farming Communities," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(10), pages 2096-2107.
  3. Siegwart Lindenberg, 2014. "Sustainable cooperation needs tinkering with both rules and social motivation," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 16(1), pages 71-81, April.
  4. Vollan, Björn & Prediger, Sebastian & Frölich, Markus, 2013. "Co-managing common-pool resources: Do formal rules have to be adapted to traditional ecological norms?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 51-62.
  5. Sebastian Prediger & Bjoern Vollan & Benedikt Herrmann, 2013. "Resource scarcity, spite and cooperation," Working Papers 2013-10, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck.
  6. Adam Douglas Henry & Bjoern Vollan, 2012. "Risk, Networks, and Ecological Explanations for the Emergence of Cooperation in Commons Governance," Rationality, Markets and Morals, Frankfurt School Verlag, Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, vol. 3(59), October.

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