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Swords without covenants do not lead to self-governance

Author

Listed:
  • Timothy N Cason

    (Purdue University, West Lafayette, USA)

  • Lata Gangadharan

    (Monash University, Melbourne, Australia)

Abstract

This paper presents an experimental study of two mechanisms for managing common pool resources. Decentralized peer punishment (swords) has been shown to increase cooperation in related social dilemmas, but only with linear private benefits and costs of public goods provision. We investigate the effectiveness of this mechanism for a more realistic nonlinear public goods environment, in isolation and in combination with nonbinding communication and informal agreements (covenants). The results show that swords do not increase cooperation or yield from the public resource, regardless of whether covenants are also possible. Covenants are significantly more effective in solving the social dilemma, and importantly peer punishment is unnecessary if communication is possible.

Suggested Citation

  • Timothy N Cason & Lata Gangadharan, 2016. "Swords without covenants do not lead to self-governance," Journal of Theoretical Politics, , vol. 28(1), pages 44-73, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:jothpo:v:28:y:2016:i:1:p:44-73
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    Cited by:

    1. Dickinson, David L. & Masclet, David & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2015. "Norm enforcement in social dilemmas: An experiment with police commissioners," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 74-85.
    2. Timothy Cason & Lata Gangadharan, 2015. "Promoting cooperation in nonlinear social dilemmas through peer punishment," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 18(1), pages 66-88, March.

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