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Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth: How the tragedy of the anticommons emerges in organizations

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Author Info

  • Matthew W. McCarter

    ()
    (Argyros School of Business and Economics and Economic Science Institute, Chapman University, USA)

  • Shirli Kopelman

    (University of Michigan)

  • Thomas A. Turk

    (Argyros School of Business and Economics, Chapman University, USA)

  • Candace E. Ybarra

    (Argyros School of Business and Economics, Chapman University, USA)

Abstract

In organizations, conflict often revolves around commons resources because they are critical for influence, performance, and organizational survival. Research on property rights, territoriality, and social dilemmas suggests that to reduce such conflict, organizations should facilitate the (psychological) privatization of commons resources. We complement these three literatures by drawing from the legal, organizational, and social psychology literatures to model how psychologically privatizing organizational commons resources – to prevent a tragedy of the commons (an overuse problem) – can lead to the emergence of equivalently problematic tragedy in organizations: the tragedy of the anticommons (an underuse problem). Our model contributes to these literatures by conceptualizing a bottom-up behavioral process (in contrast to institutional allocation) of property distribution that leads to the emergence of the tragedy of the anticommons. The implications of this bottom-up behavioral process for property rights theory, territoriality theory, and the social dilemma paradigm are discussed.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Chapman University, Economic Science Institute in its series Working Papers with number 12-14.

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Length: 45 pages
Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:chu:wpaper:12-14

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Related research

Keywords: anticommons resource; commons resource; egocentrism; fairness; property rights; psychological ownership; territoriality; tragedy of the commons; tragedy of the anticommons;

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  1. Edella Schlager & Elinor Ostrom, 1992. "Property-Rights Regimes and Natural Resources: A Conceptual Analysis," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 68(3), pages 249-262.
  2. Langlois, Richard N., 2002. "Modularity in technology and organization," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 19-37, September.
  3. Jeroen Bergh, 2007. "Evolutionary thinking in environmental economics," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 17(5), pages 521-549, October.
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  5. Wade-Benzoni, Kimberly A. & Tenbrunsel, Ann E. & Bazerman, Max H., 1996. "Egocentric Interpretations of Fairness in Asymmetric, Environmental Social Dilemmas: Explaining Harvesting Behavior and the Role of Communication," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 111-126, August.
  6. Hart, Oliver & Moore, John, 1990. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1119-58, December.
  7. McCarter, Matthew W. & Rockmann, Kevin W. & Northcraft, Gregory B., 2010. "Is it even worth it? The effect of loss prospects in the outcome distribution of a public goods dilemma," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 111(1), pages 1-12, January.
  8. Buchanan, James M & Yoon, Yong J, 2000. "Symmetric Tragedies: Commons and Anticommons," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 43(1), pages 1-13, April.
  9. Daniel J. D’Amico & Walter Block, 2007. "A legal and economic analysis of graffiti," Humanomics: The International Journal of Systems and Ethics, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 23(1), pages 29-38, February.
  10. H. Scott Gordon, 1954. "The Economic Theory of a Common-Property Resource: The Fishery," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 62, pages 124.
  11. Fahr, Rene & Irlenbusch, Bernd, 2000. "Fairness as a constraint on trust in reciprocity: earned property rights in a reciprocal exchange experiment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 66(3), pages 275-282, March.
  12. Jongwook Kim & Joseph T. Mahoney, 2002. "Resource-based and property rights perspectives on value creation: the case of oil field unitization," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(4-5), pages 225-245.
  13. Linda Babcock & George Loewenstein, 1997. "Explaining Bargaining Impasse: The Role of Self-Serving Biases," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(1), pages 109-126, Winter.
  14. Messick, David M., 1999. "Alternative logics for decision making in social settings," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 11-28, May.
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