Not Only the Tragedy of the Commons: Misperceptions of Bioeconomics
An exploratory search for explanations of mismanagement of renewable resources, other than the theory of the commons, was performed by an experiment. Eighty three subjects, mostly recruited from the fisheries sector in Norway, were asked to manage the same simulated virgin fish stock, one subject at a time. Exclusive property rights were granted to rule out the commons problem. Despite perfect property rights, subjects consistently overinvested, leading to an average overcapacity of 60%. The resource was reduced by an average of 15% below its optimal level. Overcapacity and tough "quotas" resemble the situation in Norwegian and other fisheries during the past few decades. The likely explanation of the observed behaviour is misperception of feedback, a phenomenon that occurs in many experimental studies of dynamically complex systems. Such misperceptions add a new and important dimension to the problem of renewable resource management, beyond the commons problem.
Volume (Year): 44 (1998)
Issue (Month): 9 (September)
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