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Shut Up and Fish: The Role of Communication when Output-Sharing is used to Manage a Common Pool Resource

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Author Info

  • Neil Buckley
  • Stuart Mestelman
  • R. Andrew Muller
  • Stephan Schott
  • Jingjing Zhang

Abstract

Schott et al. (2007) have shown that the “tragedy of the commons” can be overcome when individuals share their output equally in groups of optimal size and there is no communication. The assignment of individuals to groups as either strangers or partners does not significantly affect this outcome. In this paper we investigate whether communication changes these results. Communication reduces shirking, increases aggregate effort and reduces aggregate rents, but only when communication groups and output-sharing groups are linked. The effect is stronger for fixed groups (the partners treatment) than for randomly reassigned groups (the strangers treatment). Performance is not distinguishable from the no- communication treatments when communication is permitted but subjects share output within groups different from the groups within which they communicate. Communication also tends to enhance the negative effect of the partnered group assignment on the equality of individual payoffs. We use detailed content analysis to evaluate the impact of various categories of communication messages on behaviour across treatments.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by McMaster University in its series Department of Economics Working Papers with number 2009-15.

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Length: 41 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mcm:deptwp:2009-15

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Related research

Keywords: Common pool resources; Communication; Coordination; Cooperation; Free-riding Behaviour in Teams; Partners and Strangers; Experiments;

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References

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  1. Andrew Muller & Michelle Vickers, 1996. "Communication in a Common Pool Resource Environment with Probabilistic Destruction," Department of Economics Working Papers 1996-02, McMaster University.
  2. Heintzelman, Martin D. & Salant, Stephen W. & Schott, Stephan, 2009. "Putting free-riding to work: A Partnership Solution to the common-property problem," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 57(3), pages 309-320, May.
  3. Bochet, Olivier & Page, Talbot & Putterman, Louis, 2006. "Communication and punishment in voluntary contribution experiments," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 11-26, May.
  4. Stephan Schott & Neil Buckley & Stuart Mestelman & R. Muller, 2007. "Output sharing in partnerships as a common pool resource management instrument," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 37(4), pages 697-711, August.
  5. Schram, Arthur & Sonnemans, Joep, 1996. "Why people vote: Experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 17(4), pages 417-442, August.
  6. Hackett Steven & Schlager Edella & Walker James, 1994. "The Role of Communication in Resolving Commons Dilemmas: Experimental Evidence with Heterogeneous Appropriators," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 99-126, September.
  7. Kenneth S. Chan & Stuart Mestelman & Rob Moir & R. Andrew Muller, 1998. "Heterogeneity and the Voluntary Provision of Public Goods," Department of Economics Working Papers 1998-04, McMaster University.
  8. Isaac, R Mark & Walker, James M, 1988. "Communication and Free-Riding Behavior: The Voluntary Contribution Mechanism," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 26(4), pages 585-608, October.
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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.

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