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Collective Action for Watershed Management: Field Experiments in Colombia and Kenya

  • Cardenas, Juan-Camilo
  • Rodriguez, Luz Angela
  • Johnson, Nancy L.

The dilemma of collective action around water use and management involves solving both the problems of provision and appropriation. Cooperation in the provision can be affected by the rival nature of the appropriation and the asymmetries in the access. We report two field experiments conducted in Colombia and Kenya. The Irrigation Game was used to explore the provision and appropriation decisions under asymmetric or sequential appropriation, complemented with a Voluntary Contribution Mechanism experiment which looks at provision decisions under symmetric appropriation. The overall results were consistent with the patterns of previous studies: the zero contribution hypotheses is rejected whereas the most effective institution to increase cooperation was face-to-face communication, and above external regulations, although we find that communication works much more effectively in Colombia. We also find that the asymmetric appropriation did reduce cooperation, though the magnitude of the social loss and the effectiveness of alternative institutional options varied across sites.

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File URL: http://purl.umn.edu/91169
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Paper provided by Universidad de Los Andes, Economics Department in its series Documentos CEDE Series with number 91169.

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Date of creation: 12 Nov 2009
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Handle: RePEc:ags:ulaedd:91169
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  1. Elinor Ostrom & Roy Gardner, 1993. "Coping with Asymmetries in the Commons: Self-Governing Irrigation Systems Can Work," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(4), pages 93-112, Fall.
  2. Glenn Harrison & John List, 2004. "Field experiments," Artefactual Field Experiments 00058, The Field Experiments Website.
  3. Ostrom, Elinor, 2006. "The value-added of laboratory experiments for the study of institutions and common-pool resources," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 149-163, October.
  4. Cardenas, Juan-Camilo & Ostrom, Elinor, 2004. "What do people bring into the game? Experiments in the field about cooperation in the commons," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 82(3), pages 307-326, December.
  5. repec:feb:artefa:00031 is not listed on IDEAS
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