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When Does One Bad Apple Spoil the Barrel? An Evolutionary Analysis of Collective Action

  • David P. Myatt
  • Chris Wallace

This paper studies n-player collective-action games in which a public good is produced if and only if m or more volunteers contribute to it. Quantal-response strategy revisions allow play to move between equilibria in which a team of m players successfully provide, and an equilibrium in which the collective action fails. A full characterisation of long-run play reveals the determinants of success. These include the correlation between players` costs of provision and their valuations for the good. The addition of an extra bad apple player can spoil the barrel by destabilising successful teams. A contemporary application is the team-based provision of open-source software. The analysis reveals the features of successful open-source projects, and suggests a rationale for limiting the pool of possible contributors.

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Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number 269.

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Date of creation: 01 Jun 2006
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Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:269
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