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Effort provision and communication in teams competing over the commons

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  • Neil J. 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. In this paper we investigate the impact of introducing communication groups that may or may not be linked to output sharing groups. 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 (partners treatment) than for randomly reassigned groups (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 communication messages on behavior across treatments.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich in its series IEW - Working Papers with number 503.

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Date of creation: Sep 2010
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Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:503

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Keywords: Common pool resources; communication; coordination; cooperation; freeriding; behavior in teams; partners and strangers; experiments;

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  1. Klaus Abbink & Jordi Brandts & Benedikt Herrmann & Henrik Orzen, 2009. "Inter-Group Conflict and Intra-Group Punishment in an Experimental Contest Game," Discussion Papers 2009-03, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  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. Kenneth S. Chan & Stuart Mestelman & R. Andrew Muller, 1998. "Voluntary Provision of Public Goods," McMaster Experimental Economics Laboratory Publications 1998-02, McMaster University.
  4. Gillet, Joris & Schram, Arthur & Sonnemans, Joep, 2009. "The tragedy of the commons revisited: The importance of group decision-making," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(5-6), pages 785-797, June.
  5. Schram, Arthur & Sonnemans, Joep, 1996. "Why people vote: Experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 17(4), pages 417-442, August.
  6. Ahn, T.K. & Isaac, R. Mark & Salmon, Timothy C., 2011. "Rent seeking in groups," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 116-125, January.
  7. Andrew Muller & Michelle Vickers, 1996. "Communication in a Common Pool Resource Environment with Probabilistic Destruction," Department of Economics Working Papers 1996-02, McMaster University.
  8. Timothy N. Cason & Roman M. Sheremeta & Jingjing Zhang, 2009. "Reducing Efficiency through Communication in Competitive Coordination Games," Department of Economics Working Papers 2009-09, McMaster University.
  9. Kenneth Chan & Stuart Mestelman & Robert Moir & R. Muller, 1999. "Heterogeneity and the Voluntary Provision of Public Goods," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 2(1), pages 5-30, August.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Olivier Bochet & Talbot Page & Louis Putterman, 2005. "Communication and Punishment in Voluntary Contribution Experiments," Working Papers 2005-09, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
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