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Context matters to explain field experiments: Results from Colombian and Thai fishing villages


  • Castillo, Daniel
  • Bousquet, François
  • Janssen, Marco A.
  • Worrapimphong, Kobchai
  • Cardenas, Juan Camillo


During the last decade, field experiments regarding the study of common pool resource governance have been performed that replicated earlier findings of laboratory experiments. One of the questions is how the decisions made by participants in rural communities are influenced by their experience. This paper presents the results of field experiments in Colombia and Thailand on fishery resources. Context information is derived from the communities via in-depth interviews, surveys and role playing exercises. The use of different methodological tools allowed to link decisions in field experiments with contextual variables for two fishery villages. Explanation of core variables in social dilemmas is given, the degree of cooperation levels, preferred rules, rule compliance and enforcement. Main findings include: i) fishermen made decisions in the field experiments that reflected their own experience and context, ii) agreements for rule crafting are possible only under specific conditions that guarantees livelihoods and sustainability, iii) the broader context determines cooperation levels at a local level, iv) inequalities in the sanctioning of rule breakers decrease the possibilities of reaching cooperation agreements, and v) high levels of trust among local fishermen is not a sufficient condition for resource sustainability, when trust in external rule makers and enforcers is low.

Suggested Citation

  • Castillo, Daniel & Bousquet, François & Janssen, Marco A. & Worrapimphong, Kobchai & Cardenas, Juan Camillo, 2011. "Context matters to explain field experiments: Results from Colombian and Thai fishing villages," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(9), pages 1609-1620, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:70:y:2011:i:9:p:1609-1620

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Smith, Vernon L., 2010. "Theory and experiment: What are the questions?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 3-15, January.
    2. Olivier Barreteau, 2003. "Our Companion Modelling Approach," Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, vol. 6(2), pages 1-1.
    3. Juan-Camilo Cardenas, 2005. "Groups, commons and regulations: Experiments with villagers and students in colombia," Artefactual Field Experiments 00026, The Field Experiments Website.
    4. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List, 2007. "What Do Laboratory Experiments Measuring Social Preferences Reveal About the Real World?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 153-174, Spring.
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    Cited by:

    1. Röttgers, Dirk, 2016. "Conditional cooperation, context and why strong rules work — A Namibian common-pool resource experiment," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 129(C), pages 21-31.
    2. Saldarriaga-Isaza, Adrián & Arango, Santiago & Villegas-Palacio, Clara, 2015. "A behavioral model of collective action in artisanal and small-scale gold mining," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 98-109.
    3. Speelman, E.N. & García-Barrios, L.E. & Groot, J.C.J. & Tittonell, P., 2014. "Gaming for smallholder participation in the design of more sustainable agricultural landscapes," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 62-75.
    4. Vollan, Björn & Prediger, Sebastian & Frölich, Markus, 2013. "Co-managing common-pool resources: Do formal rules have to be adapted to traditional ecological norms?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 51-62.
    5. Therese Lindahl & Anne-Sophie Crépin & Caroline Schill, 2016. "Potential Disasters can Turn the Tragedy into Success," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 65(3), pages 657-676, November.
    6. Otto, Ilona M. & Wechsung, Frank, 2014. "The effects of rules and communication in a behavioral irrigation experiment with power asymmetries carried out in North China," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 10-20.
    7. 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.
    8. Travers, Henry & Clements, Tom & Keane, Aidan & Milner-Gulland, E.J., 2011. "Incentives for cooperation: The effects of institutional controls on common pool resource extraction in Cambodia," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 151-161.
    9. Torres-Guevara, Luz Elba & Schlüter, Achim, 2016. "External validity of artefactual field experiments: A study on cooperation, impatience and sustainability in an artisanal fishery in Colombia," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 187-201.


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