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What do people bring into the game: experiments in the field about cooperation in the commons

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  • Cárdenas, Juan-Camilo
  • Ostrom, Elinor

Abstract

The study of collective action requires an understanding of the individual incentives and of the institutional constraints that guide people in making choices about cooperating or defecting on the group facing the dilemma. The use of local ecosystems by groups of individuals is just one example where individual extraction increases well-being, but aggregate extraction decreases it. The use of economic experiments has enhanced the already diverse knowledge from theoretical and field sources of when and how groups can solve the problem through self-governing mechanisms. These studies have identified several factors that promote and limit collective action, associated with the nature of the production system that allows groups to benefit from a joint-access local ecosystem, and associated with the institutional incentives and constraints from both self-governed and externally imposed rules. In general, there is widespread agreement that cooperation can happen and be chosen by individuals as a rational strategy, beyond the “tragedy of the commons” prediction. A first step in this paper is to propose a set of layers of information that the individuals might be using to decide over their level of cooperation. The layers range from the material incentives that the specific production function imposes, to the dynamics of the game, to the composition of the group and the individual characteristics of the player. We next expand the experimental literature by analyzing data from a set of experiments conducted in the field with actual ecosystem users in three rural villages of Colombia using this framework. We find that repetition brings reciprocity motives into the decision making. Further, prior experience of the participants, their perception of external regulation, or the composition of the group in terms of their wealth and social position in the village, influence decisions to cooperate or defect in the experiment. The results suggest that understanding the multiple levels of the game, in terms of the incentives, the group and individual characteristics or the context, can help understand and therefore explore the potentials for solving the collective-action dilemma.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in its series CAPRi working papers with number 32.

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Date of creation: 2004
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Handle: RePEc:fpr:worpps:32

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Keywords: Collective action; Decision-making; Capacity;

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References

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Juan Camilo C�rdenas, 2009. "Experiments in Environment and Development," Annual Review of Resource Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 157-182, 09.
  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. Ahn, T.K. & Ostrom, Elinor & Walker, James, 2010. "A common-pool resource experiment with postgraduate subjects from 41 countries," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(12), pages 2624-2633, October.
  4. Martinsson, Peter & Villegas-Palacio, Clara, 2010. "Does disclosure crowd out cooperation?," Working Papers in Economics 446, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  5. Hayo, Bernd & Vollan, Björn, 2012. "Group interaction, heterogeneity, rules, and co-operative behaviour: Evidence from a common-pool resource experiment in South Africa and Namibia," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 9-28.
  6. Juan Camilo Cárdenas & Luz Ángela Rodríguez & Nancy Johnson, 2009. "Collective Action forWatershed Management: Field Experiments in Colombia and Kenya," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 006649, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
  7. Beitl, Christine M., 2014. "Adding Environment to the Collective Action Problem: Individuals, Civil Society, and the Mangrove-Fishery Commons in Ecuador," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 93-107.
  8. Adeoti, A.I., 2008. "Determinants of Households’ Participation in the Collective Maintenance of Publicly Provided Water Infrastructure in Oyo State, Nigeria," Journal of Rural Economics and Development, University of Ibadan, Department of Agricultural Economics, vol. 17.
  9. Ibanez, Marcela & Martinsson, Peter, 2008. "Can we do policy recommendations from a framed field experiment? The case of coca cultivation in Colombia," Working Papers in Economics 306, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  10. Matilde Casuccio & Enrico Giovannetti, 2008. "The Cooperative Movement in Bolivia: Fair Trade in Amazzonia Nuts," Department of Economics 0592, University of Modena and Reggio E., Faculty of Economics "Marco Biagi".
  11. Velez, Maria Alejandra & Stranlund, John K. & Murphy, James J., 2009. "What motivates common pool resource users? Experimental evidence from the field," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 485-497, June.
  12. Giovanna d’Adda, 2012. "Leadership and influence: Evidence from an artefactual field experiment on local public good provision," ECON - Working Papers 059, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
  13. Kunlayanee Pornpinatepong & Pathomwat Chantarasap & Jumtip Seneerattanaprayul & Wittawat Hemtanon & Papitchaya Saelim, 2013. "Response of Fishermen to Fishing Control Policies in Southern Songkhla Lake, Thailand: A Field Experiment," EEPSEA Research Report rr2013021, Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia (EEPSEA), revised Feb 2013.
  14. Meinzen-Dick, Ruth Suseela & Di Gregorio, Monica & McCarthy, Nancy, 2004. "Methods for studying collective action in rural development:," CAPRi working papers 33, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  15. Czap, Natalia V. & Czap, Hans J. & Khachaturyan, Marianna & Lynne, Gary D. & Burbach, Mark, 2012. "Walking in the shoes of others: Experimental testing of dual-interest and empathy in environmental choice," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 41(5), pages 642-653.
  16. Klaus Moeltner & James J. Murphy & John K. Stranlund & Maria Alejandra Velez, 2012. "Institutional Heterogeneity in Social Dilemma Games: A Bayesian Examination," Working Papers 2012-04, University of Alaska Anchorage, Department of Economics.
  17. Ahn, T.K. & Ostrom, Elinor & Walker, James, 2011. "Reprint of: A common-pool resource experiment with postgraduate subjects from 41 countries," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(9), pages 1580-1589, July.
  18. Jan Stoop & Charles N. Noussair & Daan van Soest, 2012. "From the Lab to the Field: Cooperation among Fishermen," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 120(6), pages 1027 - 1056.
  19. d'Adda, Giovanna, 2011. "Social Status and Influence: Evidence from an Artefactual Field Experiment on Local Public Good Provision," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Berlin 2011 22, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
  20. Meijerink, Gerdien W., 2007. "If services aren't delivered, people won't pay: the role of measurement problems and monitoring in Payments for Environmental Services," 106th Seminar, October 25-27, 2007, Montpellier, France 7948, European Association of Agricultural Economists.

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