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Collective Action and the Evolution of Social Norms


  • Elinor Ostrom


I assume multiple types of players--"rational egoists," as well as "conditional cooperators" and "willing punishers"--in models of nonmarket behavior. I use an indirect evolutionary approach to explain how multiple types of players could survive and flourish in social dilemma situations. Contextual variables that enhance knowledge about past behavior assist in explaining the origin of collective action. Among the important contextual variables are types of goods, types of groups, and rules that groups use to provide and allocate goods. Finally, I reexamine a series of design principles that were derived earlier from an examination of extensive case materials.

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  • Elinor Ostrom, 2000. "Collective Action and the Evolution of Social Norms," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 137-158, Summer.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:14:y:2000:i:3:p:137-158 Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.14.3.137

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kreps, David M. & Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John & Wilson, Robert, 1982. "Rational cooperation in the finitely repeated prisoners' dilemma," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 245-252, August.
    2. Morrow, Christopher E. & Hull, Rebecca Watts, 1996. "Donor-initiated common pool resource institutions: The case of the Yanesha Forestry Cooperative," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 24(10), pages 1641-1657, October.
    3. Isaac, R. Mark & Walker, James M. & Williams, Arlington W., 1994. "Group size and the voluntary provision of public goods : Experimental evidence utilizing large groups," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 1-36, May.
    4. Selten, Reinhard, 1991. "Evolution, learning, and economic behavior," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 3-24, February.
    5. Johnson, Ronald N & Libecap, Gary D, 1982. "Contracting Problems and Regulation: The Case of the Fishery," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(5), pages 1005-1022, December.
    6. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
    7. Montgomery, Michael R & Bean, Richard, 1999. "Market Failure, Government Failure, and the Private Supply of Public Goods: The Case of Climate-Controlled Walkway Networks," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 99(3-4), pages 403-437, June.
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    JEL classification:

    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification


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