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Not Only the Tragedy of the Commons: Misperceptions of Bioeconomics

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  • Erling Moxnes

    (Foundation for Research in Economics and Business Administration, SNF, Breiviken 2, N-5035 Bergen-Sandviken, Norway)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Erling Moxnes, 1998. "Not Only the Tragedy of the Commons: Misperceptions of Bioeconomics," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 44(9), pages 1234-1248, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:44:y:1998:i:9:p:1234-1248
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.44.9.1234
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Andreoni, James, 1988. "Why free ride? : Strategies and learning in public goods experiments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 291-304, December.
    2. Smith, Vernon L, 1982. "Microeconomic Systems as an Experimental Science," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(5), pages 923-955, December.
    3. Bolle, Friedel, 1990. "High reward experiments without high expenditure for the experimenter?," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 157-167, June.
    4. John D. Sterman, 1989. "Modeling Managerial Behavior: Misperceptions of Feedback in a Dynamic Decision Making Experiment," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 35(3), pages 321-339, March.
    5. Smith, Vernon L & Suchanek, Gerry L & Williams, Arlington W, 1988. "Bubbles, Crashes, and Endogenous Expectations in Experimental Spot Asset Markets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(5), pages 1119-1151, September.
    6. Walker, James M & Gardner, Roy, 1992. "Probabilistic Destruction of Common-Pool Resources: Experimental Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 102(414), pages 1149-1161, September.
    7. Walker, James M. & Gardner, Roy & Ostrom, Elinor, 1990. "Rent dissipation in a limited-access common-pool resource: Experimental evidence," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 203-211, November.
    8. H. Scott Gordon, 1954. "The Economic Theory of a Common-Property Resource: The Fishery," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 62, pages 124-124.
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