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The tragedy of the commons revisited: The importance of group decision-making

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Author Info

  • Gillet, Joris
  • Schram, Arthur
  • Sonnemans, Joep

Abstract

We use a laboratory experiment to compare the way groups and individuals behave in an inter-temporal common pool dilemma. The experimental design distinguishes between a non-strategic problem where players (individuals or groups of three) make decisions without interaction and a strategic part where players harvest from a common pool. This allows us to correct for differences between individuals and groups in the quality of decisions when testing for differences in competitiveness. Group decisions are either made by majority rule or unanimity. The results show that groups are less myopic than individuals (i.e., they make qualitatively better decisions) but that they are more competitive than individuals when placed in a strategic setting. The net result for groups deciding by majority rule is that they make less efficient decisions in the strategic game than individuals do. We are able to show that this is caused by the median voter departing from her original preference in early periods with a shrinking pool. When groups have to make unanimous decisions they start playing the strategic game more efficiently then individuals do, but they rapidly become more competitive with repetition of the game.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 93 (2009)
Issue (Month): 5-6 (June)
Pages: 785-797

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:93:y:2009:i:5-6:p:785-797

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

Related research

Keywords: Common pool Group decision making Experiment Majority rule Unanimity;

References

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  1. Mannix, Elizabeth A. & Loewenstein, George F., 1994. "The Effects of Interfirm Mobility and Individual versus Group Decision Making on Managerial Time Horizons," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 59(3), pages 371-390, September.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Bernard, Mark & Dreber, Anna & Strimling, Pontus & Eriksson, Kimmo, 2013. "The subgroup problem: When can binding voting on extractions from a common pool resource overcome the tragedy of the commons?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 122-130.
  2. Matthias Sutter, 2008. "Individual behavior and group membership: Comment," Working Papers 2008-23, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck.
  3. Axel Franzen & Sonja Pointner, 2013. "Giving according to preferences: Decision-making in the group dictator game," University of Bern Social Sciences Working Papers 2, University of Bern, Department of Social Sciences, revised 24 Jan 2014.
  4. Neil J. Buckley & Stuart Mestelman & R. Andrew Muller & Stephan Schott & Jingjing Zhang, 2010. "Effort Provision and Communication in Teams Competing over the Commons," Department of Economics Working Papers 2010-07, McMaster University.
  5. Kugler, Tamar & Kausel, E.E. & Kocher, Martin G., 2012. "Are groups more rational than individuals? A review of interactive decision making in groups," Munich Reprints in Economics 18215, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  6. Galinato, Gregmar I., 2011. "Endogenous property rights regimes, common-pool resources and trade," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(5), pages 951-962, March.
  7. Jingjing Zhang & Marco Casari, 2010. "How groups reach agreement in risky choices: an experiment," IEW - Working Papers 506, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  8. Jorge Higinio Maldonado & Rocío del Pilar Moreno-Sánchez, 2009. "Does Scarcity Exacerbate the Tragedy of the Commons? Evidence from Fishers´ Experimental Responses," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 006006, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
  9. Jingjing Zhang, 2012. "Communication in asymmetric group competition over public goods," ECON - Working Papers 069, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
  10. Gillet, Joris & Schram, Arthur & Sonnemans, Joep, 2011. "Cartel formation and pricing: The effect of managerial decision-making rules," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 126-133, January.
  11. Neil J. Buckley & Stuart Mestelman & R. Andrew Muller & Stephan Schott & Jingjing Zhang, 2013. "Communication and Output Sharing in Common Pool Resource Environments," Department of Economics Working Papers 2013-06, McMaster University.
  12. Müller, Wieland & Tan, Fangfang, 2013. "Who acts more like a game theorist? Group and individual play in a sequential market game and the effect of the time horizon," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 658-674.

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