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Mitigating the Tragedy of the Digital Commons: the Case of Unsolicited Commercial Email

Author

Listed:
  • Oleg V. Pavlov

    (Social Science and Policy Studies WPI)

  • Nigel Melville

Abstract

The growth of unsolicited commercial email imposes increasing costs on organizations and causes considerable aggravation on the part of email recipients. A thriving anti-spam industry addresses some of the frustration. Regulation and various economic and technical means are in the works – all aimed at bringing down the flood of unwanted commercial email. This paper contributes to our understanding of the UCE phenomenon by drawing on scholarly work in areas of marketing and resource ownership and use. Adapting the tragedy of the commons to the email context, we identify a causal structure that drives the direct e-marketing industry. Computer simulations indicate that although filtering may be an effective method to curb UCE arriving at individual inboxes, it is likely to increase the aggregate volume, thereby boosting overall costs. We also examine other response mechanisms, including self-regulation, government regulation, and market mechanisms. The analysis advances understanding of the digital commons, the economics of UCE, and has practical implications for the direct e-marketing industry

Suggested Citation

  • Oleg V. Pavlov & Nigel Melville, 2005. "Mitigating the Tragedy of the Digital Commons: the Case of Unsolicited Commercial Email," Computing in Economics and Finance 2005 231, Society for Computational Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:sce:scecf5:231
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    File URL: http://repec.org/sce2005/up.13668.1107117860.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Martin, Brett A. S. & Van Durme, Joã‹L & Raulas, Mika & Merisavo, Marko, 2003. "Email Advertising: Exploratory Insights from Finland," Journal of Advertising Research, Cambridge University Press, vol. 43(3), pages 293-300, September.
    2. Shyam Sunder & Matthew Cronin & Darrin Filer & Robert Kraut & James Morris & Rahul Telang & Proceedings the, 2002. "Markets for Attention: Will Postage for Email Help?," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm394, Yale School of Management, revised 01 Oct 2008.
    3. Wei-yu Kevin Chiang & Dilip Chhajed & James D. Hess, 2003. "Direct Marketing, Indirect Profits: A Strategic Analysis of Dual-Channel Supply-Chain Design," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 49(1), pages 1-20, January.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    SPAM; Unsolicited Commercial Email (UCE); Tragedy of the Digital Commons; Simulation;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H40 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - General
    • C60 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - General

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