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Self-Organization for Collective Action: An Experimental Study of Voting on Formal, Informal, and No Sanction Regimes

Entrusting the power to punish to a central authority is a hallmark of civilization. We study a collective action dilemma in which self-interest should produce a sub-optimal outcome absent sanctions for non-cooperation. We then test experimentally whether subjects make the theoretically optimal choice of a formal sanction scheme that costs less than the surplus it makes possible, or instead opt for the use of informal sanctions or no sanctions. Most groups adopt formal sanctions when they are of deterrent magnitude and cost a small fraction (10%) of the potential surplus. Contrary to the standard theoretical prediction, however, most groups choose informal sanctions when formal sanctions are more costly (40% of the surplus). Being adopted by voting appears to enhance the efficiency of both informal sanctions and non-deterrent formal sanctions.

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File URL: http://homepage.univie.ac.at/Papers.Econ/RePEc/vie/viennp/vie1103.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Vienna, Department of Economics in its series Vienna Economics Papers with number 1103.

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Date of creation: Feb 2011
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Handle: RePEc:vie:viennp:1103
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.univie.ac.at/vwl

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  1. Louis Putterman & Jean-Robert Tyran & Kenju Kamei, 2010. "Public Goods and Voting on Formal Sanction Schemes: An Experiment," Discussion Papers 10-02, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  2. Martin Sefton & Robert Shupp & James M. Walker, 2006. "The Effect of Rewards and Sanctions in Provision of Public Goods," Caepr Working Papers 2006-005, Center for Applied Economics and Policy Research, Economics Department, Indiana University Bloomington, revised Aug 2006.
  3. Olivier Bochet & Talbot Page & Louis Putterman, 2005. "Communication and Punishment in Voluntary Contribution Experiments," Working Papers 2005-09, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  4. Jean-Robert Tyran & Kenju Kamei & Louis Putterman, 2011. "State or Nature? Formal vs. Informal Sanctioning in the Voluntary Provision of Public Goods," Vienna Economics Papers 1104, University of Vienna, Department of Economics.
  5. Nikos Nikiforakis & Hans-Theo Normann, 2005. "A Comparative Statics Analysis of Punishment in Public-Good Experiments," Royal Holloway, University of London: Discussion Papers in Economics 05/07, Department of Economics, Royal Holloway University of London, revised Jun 2005.
  6. Christian Thöni & Jean-Robert Tyran & Erik Wengström, 2009. "Microfoundations of Social Capital," Discussion Papers 09-24, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics, revised Sep 2010.
  7. Ostrom, Elinor, 2009. "Beyond Markets and States: Polycentric Governance of Complex Economic Systems," Nobel Prize in Economics documents 2009-4, Nobel Prize Committee.
  8. Rockenbach, Bettina & Wolff, Irenaeus, 2009. "Institution design in social dilemmas: How to design if you must?," MPRA Paper 16922, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. Anabela Botelho & Glenn W. Harrison & Lígia Costa Pinto & Elisabet E. Rutstrom, 2005. "Social norms and social choice," NIMA Working Papers 30, Núcleo de Investigação em Microeconomia Aplicada (NIMA), Universidade do Minho.
  10. Nikos Nikiforakis, 2010. "Experimental Economics," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 43(3), pages 337-345.
  11. repec:ner:tilbur:urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-284310 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. Nikiforakis, Nikos, 2008. "Punishment and counter-punishment in public good games: Can we really govern ourselves," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1-2), pages 91-112, February.
  13. Sebastian Kube & Christian Traxler, 2011. "The Interaction of Legal and Social Norm Enforcement," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 13(5), pages 639-660, October.
  14. Pedro Dal Bo & Andrew Foster & Louis Putterman, 2007. "Institutions and Behavior: Experimental Evidence on the Effects of Democracy," Working Papers 2007-9, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  15. Ertan, Arhan & Page, Talbot & Putterman, Louis, 2009. "Who to punish? Individual decisions and majority rule in mitigating the free rider problem," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 53(5), pages 495-511, July.
  16. David Kreps & Paul Milgrom & John Roberts & Bob Wilson, 2010. "Rational Cooperation in the Finitely Repeated Prisoners' Dilemma," Levine's Working Paper Archive 239, David K. Levine.
  17. Jennifer Zelmer, 2003. "Linear Public Goods Experiments: A Meta-Analysis," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 6(3), pages 299-310, November.
  18. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  19. Umut Ones & Louis Putterman, 2004. "The Ecology of Collective Action: A Public Goods and Sanctions Experiment with Controlled Group Formation," Working Papers 2004-01, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  20. Haigner, Stefan & Kocher, Martin & Sutter, Matthias, 2006. "Choosing the Stick or the Carrot? Endogenous Institutional Choice in Social Dilemma Situations," CEPR Discussion Papers 5497, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  21. Matthias Cinyabuguma & Talbot Page & Louis Putterman, 2006. "Can second-order punishment deter perverse punishment?," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 265-279, September.
  22. Ananish Chaudhuri, 2011. "Sustaining cooperation in laboratory public goods experiments: a selective survey of the literature," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 47-83, March.
  23. Denant-Boemont, L. & Masclet, D. & Noussair, C.N., 2007. "Punishment, counterpunishment, and sanction enforcement in a social dilemma experiment," Other publications TiSEM bf51dcf1-7064-41d1-8560-9, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
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