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Not Only the Tragedy of the Commons: Misperceptions of Bioeconomics


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  • Erling Moxnes

    (Foundation for Research in Economics and Business Administration, SNF, Breiviken 2, N-5035 Bergen-Sandviken, Norway)

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    An exploratory search for explanations of mismanagement of renewable resources, other than the theory of the commons, was performed by an experiment. Eighty three subjects, mostly recruited from the fisheries sector in Norway, were asked to manage the same simulated virgin fish stock, one subject at a time. Exclusive property rights were granted to rule out the commons problem. Despite perfect property rights, subjects consistently overinvested, leading to an average overcapacity of 60%. The resource was reduced by an average of 15% below its optimal level. Overcapacity and tough "quotas" resemble the situation in Norwegian and other fisheries during the past few decades. The likely explanation of the observed behaviour is misperception of feedback, a phenomenon that occurs in many experimental studies of dynamically complex systems. Such misperceptions add a new and important dimension to the problem of renewable resource management, beyond the commons problem.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by INFORMS in its journal Management Science.

    Volume (Year): 44 (1998)
    Issue (Month): 9 (September)
    Pages: 1234-1248

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    Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:44:y:1998:i:9:p:1234-1248

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    Keywords: Commons Problem; Bioeconomics; Decision Making; Experimental Economics; Misperception of Feedback;


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    Cited by:
    1. Moxnes, Erling, 2014. "Discounting, climate and sustainability," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 158-166.
    2. Schnier, Kurt Erik, 2009. "Spatial externalities and the common-pool resource mechanism," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 70(1-2), pages 402-415, May.
    3. Langley, Paul A. & Morecroft, John D. W., 2004. "Performance and learning in a simulation of oil industry dynamics," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 155(3), pages 715-732, June.
    4. Brekke, Kjell Arne & Moxnes, Erling, 2003. "Do numerical simulation and optimization results improve management?: Experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 117-131, January.
    5. Strohhecker, Jürgen & Größler, Andreas, 2013. "Do personal traits influence inventory management performance?—The case of intelligence, personality, interest and knowledge," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 142(1), pages 37-50.
    6. Fischer, M.E. & Irlenbusch, B. & Sadrieh, A., 2003. "An Intergenerational Common Pool Resource Experiment," Discussion Paper 2003-57, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    7. John Sterman, 2011. "Communicating climate change risks in a skeptical world," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 108(4), pages 811-826, October.
    8. Schnier, Kurt E. & Anderson, Christopher M., 2006. "Decision making in patchy resource environments: Spatial misperception of bioeconomic models," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 234-254, October.
    9. Arango, Santiago & Moxnes, Erling, 2012. "Commodity cycles, a function of market complexity? Extending the cobweb experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 321-334.
    10. Schaffernicht, Martin & Groesser, Stefan N., 2011. "A comprehensive method for comparing mental models of dynamic systems," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 210(1), pages 57-67, April.
    11. Richard Schwindt & Aidan R. Vining & David Weimer, 2003. "A Policy Analysis of the BC Salmon Fishery," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 29(1), pages 73-93, March.
    12. Akpalu, Wisdom, 2013. "Foreign aid and sustainable fisheries management in sub-Saharan Africa," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    13. Eggert, Hakan & Lokina, Razack B., 2008. "Regulatory Compliance in Lake Victoria Fisheries," Discussion Papers dp-08-14-efd, Resources For the Future.
    14. H. Stouten & A. Heene & X. Gellynck & H. Polet, 2008. "The effect of restrictive policy instruments on Belgian fishing fleet dynamics," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 08/540, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
    15. Pavlov, Oleg V. & Melville, Nigel & Plice, Robert K., 2008. "Toward a sustainable email marketing infrastructure," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 61(11), pages 1191-1199, November.
    16. Tibor Neugebauer & John D. Hey & K Sadrieh, 2008. "An Experimental Analysis of Optimal Renewable Resource Management: The Fishery," LSF Research Working Paper Series 08-10, Luxembourg School of Finance, University of Luxembourg.


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