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Bosses and Kings: Asymmetric Power in Paired Common Pool and Public Good Games

  • James C. Cox
  • Elinor Ostrom
  • James M. Walker

Social dilemmas characterize decision environments in which individuals' exclusive pursuit of their own material self-interest can produce inefficient allocations. Two such environments are those characterized by public goods and common-pool resources in which the social dilemmas can be manifested in free riding and tragedy of the commons outcomes. Much field and laboratory research has focused on the effectiveness of alternative political-economic institutions in counteracting individuals' tendencies to underprovide public goods and over-extract commonpool resources. Previous laboratory research has not focused on the implications of power asymmetries in paired public good and common pool game settings. In our baseline treatments, we experiment with simultaneous move one-period games in which paired comparisons can be made across settings with public good and common pool games. In our central treatments, we experiment with pairs of sequential move one-period games in which second movers with asymmetric power -- "bosses and kings" -- can have large effects on efficiency and equity. The central questions are whether the bosses and kings do have significant effects on outcomes and whether those effects differ across the paired public good and common pool games in ways that can be rationalized by some theories but not others.

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File URL: http://excen.gsu.edu/workingpapers/GSU_EXCEN_WP_2011-06.pdf
File Function: First version, 2011
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File URL: http://excen.gsu.edu/workingpapers/GSU_EXCEN_WP_2012-13.pdf
File Function: Revised version, 2012
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Paper provided by Experimental Economics Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University in its series Experimental Economics Center Working Paper Series with number 2011-06.

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Length: 29
Date of creation: Mar 2011
Date of revision: Aug 2012
Handle: RePEc:exc:wpaper:2011-06
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Web page: http://excen.gsu.edu/

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  1. Nava Ashraf & Iris Bohnet & Nikita Piankov, 2006. "Decomposing trust and trustworthiness," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 193-208, September.
  2. Casari, Marco & Plott, Charles R., 2003. "Decentralized management of common property resources: experiments with a centuries-old institution," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 217-247, June.
  3. James C. Cox & Elinor Ostrom, & James M. Walker & Antonio Jamie Castillo & Eric Coleman & Robert Holahan & Michael Schoon & Brian Steed, 2009. "Trust in Private and Common Property Experiments," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 957-975, April.
  4. Cox, James C. & Friedman, Daniel & Sadiraj, Vjollca, 2009. "Revealed Altruism," Santa Cruz Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt6rb5t4mc, Department of Economics, UC Santa Cruz.
  5. Cox, James C. & Friedman, Daniel & Gjerstad, Steven, 2007. "A tractable model of reciprocity and fairness," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 17-45, April.
  6. Bohnet, Iris & Croson, Rachel, 2004. "Trust and trustworthiness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 443-445, December.
  7. James C. Cox & Vjollca Sadiraj, 2006. "On Modeling Voluntary Contributions to Public Goods," Experimental Economics Center Working Paper Series 2006-26, Experimental Economics Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  8. Sonnemans, Joep & Schram, Arthur & Offerman, Theo, 1998. "Public good provision and public bad prevention: The effect of framing," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 143-161, January.
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