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

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  • David P. Myatt
  • Chris Wallace

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • David P. Myatt & Chris Wallace, 2006. "When Does One Bad Apple Spoil the Barrel? An Evolutionary Analysis of Collective Action," Economics Series Working Papers 269, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:269
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    File URL: http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/materials/working_papers/paper269.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. David P. Myatt & Chris Wallace, 2008. "When Does One Bad Apple Spoil the Barrel? An Evolutionary Analysis of Collective Action," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, pages 499-527.
    2. repec:eee:soceco:v:69:y:2017:i:c:p:108-116 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Carlos Alós-Ferrer & Nick Netzer, 2015. "Robust stochastic stability," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), pages 31-57.
    4. Gee, Laura Katherine & Schreck, Michael J., 2017. "Do Beliefs about Peers Matter for Donation Matching? Experiments in the Field and Laboratory," IZA Discussion Papers 10956, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Maruta, Toshimasa & Okada, Akira, 2014. "The Formation and Long-run Stability of Cooperative Groups in a Social Dilemma Situation," Discussion Papers 2014-03, Graduate School of Economics, Hitotsubashi University.
    6. Daniela Di Cagno & Arianna Galliera & Werner Güth & Francesca Marzo & Noemi Pace, 2017. "(Sub) Optimality and (non) optimal satisficing in risky decision experiments," Theory and Decision, Springer, pages 195-243.
    7. Myatt, David P. & Wallace, Chris, 2008. "An evolutionary analysis of the volunteer's dilemma," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 67-76, January.
    8. Kevin Hasker, 2014. "The Emergent Seed: A Representation Theorem for Models of Stochastic Evolution and two formulas for Waiting Time," Levine's Working Paper Archive 786969000000000954, David K. Levine.
    9. Aggarwal, Ishani & Woolley, Anita Williams, 2013. "Do you see what I see? The effect of members’ cognitive styles on team processes and errors in task execution," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 122(1), pages 92-99.
    10. Newton, Jonathan, 2017. "Shared intentions: The evolution of collaboration," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, pages 517-534.
    11. Carlos Alós–Ferrer & Nick Netzer, 2012. "Robust stochastic stability," ECON - Working Papers 063, Department of Economics - University of Zurich, revised Jan 2014.
    12. Laura Gee & Michael Schreck, 2016. "Do Beliefs About Peers Matter for Donation Matching? Experiments in the Field and Laboratory," Framed Field Experiments 00538, The Field Experiments Website.
    13. Grund, Christian & Harbring, Christine & Thommes, Kirsten, 2016. "Group (Re-)formation in Public Good Games: The Tale of the Bad Apple," IZA Discussion Papers 9982, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    14. Josephson, Jens & Wärneryd, Karl, 2008. "Long-run selection and the work ethic," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 354-365, May.
    15. Antoci, Angelo & Russu, Paolo & Zarri, Luca, 2014. "Tax evasion in a behaviorally heterogeneous society: An evolutionary analysis," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 106-115.
    16. Wallace, Chris & Young, H. Peyton, 2015. "Stochastic Evolutionary Game Dynamics," Handbook of Game Theory with Economic Applications, Elsevier.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Collective Action; Evolution; Teams; Equilibrium Selection; Concordance; Open-Source Software;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C73 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Stochastic and Dynamic Games; Evolutionary Games
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods

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