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Collective action in the commons: A theoretical framework for empirical research

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  • Rajiv Sethi

    ()
    (Columbia University)

  • E. Somanathan

    ()
    (Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi)

Abstract

A model of collective action in the commons that is intended to provide a framework for empirical research into the question of when cooperation is likely to be successful is presented. It is based on the presence of costly punishment opportunities, some players who have a taste for punishing those who violate agreements to cooperate (an assumption strongly supported by recent experimental research), and bounded rationality. It predicts that cooperation is more likely when communication is cheap, the technology of public good provision is sufficiently productive, effective punishment opportunities are available at sufficiently low cost, and when group size is large (holding constant the other parameters mentioned). Heterogeneity in the ability to inflict punishment or be hurt by it may result in collective action becoming infeasible, especially when there are increasing returns to the public good, but there is a range of parameters in which changes in heterogeneity will have no effect and circumstances in which heterogeneity will actually favor cooperation.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi, India in its series Indian Statistical Institute, Planning Unit, New Delhi Discussion Papers with number 04-21.

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Length: 21 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ind:isipdp:04-21

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  1. Sethi, Rajiv & Somanathan, E., 2003. "Understanding reciprocity," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 1-27, January.
  2. COOPER, R. & DEJONG, D.V. & FORSYTHE, R. & Tom Ross, 1989. "Communication In Coordination Games," Carleton Industrial Organization Research Unit (CIORU) 89-07, Carleton University, Department of Economics.
  3. Talbot Page & Louis Putterman & Bulent Unel, 2005. "Voluntary Association in Public Goods Experiments: Reciprocity, Mimicry and Efficiency," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(506), pages 1032-1053, October.
  4. Baland, Jean-Marie & Platteau, Jean-Philippe, 1998. "Wealth Inequality and Efficiency in the Commons, Part II: The Regulated Case," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 50(1), pages 1-22, January.
  5. Oliver Bochet & Talbot Page & Louis Putterman, 2002. "Communication and Punishment in Voluntary Contribution Experiments," Working Papers 2002-29, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  6. Noussair, C.N. & Masclet, D. & Tucker, S. & Villeval, M..C, 2003. "Monetary and non-monetary punishment in the voluntary contributions mechanism," Open Access publications from Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-377951, Tilburg University.
  7. Carpenter, Jeffrey P. & Bowles, Samuel & Gintis, Herbert, 2006. "Mutual Monitoring in Teams: Theory and Experimental Evidence on the Importance of Reciprocity," IZA Discussion Papers 2106, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Cooper, Russell, et al, 1992. "Communication in Coordination Games," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 739-71, May.
  9. Charness, Gary, 2000. "Self-Serving Cheap Talk: A Test Of Aumann's Conjecture," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 177-194, November.
  10. Martin Sefton & Robert S. Shupp & James Walker, 2005. "The Effect of Rewards and Sanctions in Provision of Public Goods," Working Papers 200504, Ball State University, Department of Economics, revised Feb 2005.
  11. Carpenter, Jeffrey P. & Matthews, Peter Hans, 2004. "Social Reciprocity," IZA Discussion Papers 1347, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Sethi, Rajiv & Somanathan, E, 1996. "The Evolution of Social Norms in Common Property Resource Use," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 766-88, September.
  13. Blume, Andreas & Ortmann, Andreas, 2007. "The effects of costless pre-play communication: Experimental evidence from games with Pareto-ranked equilibria," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 132(1), pages 274-290, January.
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Cited by:
  1. Pranab Mukhopadhyay, 2008. "Heterogeneity, Commons and Privatization: Agrarian Institutional Change in Goa," Working Papers id:1777, eSocialSciences.

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