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Collective Action forWatershed Management: Field Experiments in Colombia and Kenya


  • Juan Camilo Cárdenas
  • Luz Ángela Rodríguez
  • Nancy Johnson


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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  • Juan Camilo Cárdenas & Luz Ángela Rodríguez & Nancy Johnson, 2009. "Collective Action forWatershed Management: Field Experiments in Colombia and Kenya," Documentos CEDE 6649, Universidad de los Andes, Facultad de Economía, CEDE.
  • Handle: RePEc:col:000089:006649

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Cardenas, Juan Camilo & Stranlund, John & Willis, Cleve, 2002. "Economic inequality and burden-sharing in the provision of local environmental quality," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 379-395, March.
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    7. 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.
    8. Juan-Camilo Cardenas & T. K. Ahn & Elinor Ostrom, 2004. "Communication and Co-operation in a Common-Pool Resource Dilemma: A Field Experiment," Palgrave Macmillan Books, in: Steffen Huck (ed.), Advances in Understanding Strategic Behaviour, chapter 12, pages 258-286, Palgrave Macmillan.
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    More about this item


    Collective Action; Watersheds; Field Experiments; Colombia; Kenya;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • C9 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments
    • H3 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents
    • H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods

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