Breaking the elected rules in a field experiment on forestry resources
Harvesting from common resources has been studied through experimental work in the laboratory and in the field. In this paper we report on a dynamic commons experiment, representing a forest, performed with different types of communities of resource users in Thailand and Colombia, as well as student participants. We find that all groups overharvest the resource in the first part of the experiment and that there is no statistical difference between the various types of groups. In the second part of the experiment, participants appropriate the common resource after one of three possible regulations is elected and implemented. There is less overharvesting after the rules are implemented, but there is a significant amount of rule breaking. The surprising finding is that Colombian villagers break the rules of the games more often than other groups, and even more so when they have more trust in members of the community. This observation can be explained by the distrust in externally proposed regulations due to the institutional and cultural context.
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