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Effort provision and communication in teams competing over the commons

  • Neil J. Buckley
  • Stuart Mestelman
  • R. Andrew Muller
  • Stephan Schott
  • Jingjing Zhang

Schott et al. (2007) have shown that the “tragedy of the commons” can be overcome when individuals share their output equally in groups of optimal size and there is no communication. In this paper we investigate the impact of introducing communication groups that may or may not be linked to output sharing groups. Communication reduces shirking, increases aggregate effort and reduces aggregate rents, but only when communication groups and output-sharing groups are linked. The effect is stronger for fixed groups (partners treatment) than for randomly reassigned groups (strangers treatment). Performance is not distinguishable from the no-communication treatments when communication is permitted but subjects share output within groups different from the groups within which they communicate. Communication also tends to enhance the negative effect of the partnered group assignment on the equality of individual payoffs. We use detailed content analysis to evaluate the impact of communication messages on behavior across treatments.

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Paper provided by Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich in its series IEW - Working Papers with number 503.

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Date of creation: Sep 2010
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Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:503
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  1. Olivier Bochet & Talbot Page & Louis Putterman, 2005. "Communication and Punishment in Voluntary Contribution Experiments," Working Papers 2005-09, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  2. Kenneth Chan & Stuart Mestelman & Robert Moir & R. Muller, 1999. "Heterogeneity and the Voluntary Provision of Public Goods," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 2(1), pages 5-30, August.
  3. Isaac, R Mark & Walker, James M, 1988. "Communication and Free-Riding Behavior: The Voluntary Contribution Mechanism," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 26(4), pages 585-608, October.
  4. Schram, Arthur & Sonnemans, Joep, 1996. "Why people vote: Experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 17(4), pages 417-442, August.
  5. Ahn, T.K. & Isaac, R. Mark & Salmon, Timothy C., 2011. "Rent seeking in groups," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 116-125, January.
  6. Stephan Schott & Neil Buckley & Stuart Mestelman & R. Muller, 2007. "Output sharing in partnerships as a common pool resource management instrument," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 37(4), pages 697-711, August.
  7. Klaus Abbink & Jordi Brandts & Benedikt Herrmann & Henrik Orzen, 2010. "Intergroup Conflict and Intra-group Punishment in an Experimental Contest Game," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(1), pages 420-47, March.
  8. Gillet, Joris & Schram, Arthur & Sonnemans, Joep, 2009. "The tragedy of the commons revisited: The importance of group decision-making," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(5-6), pages 785-797, June.
  9. Chan, Kenneth S. & Mestelman, Stuart & Muller, R. Andrew, 2008. "Voluntary Provision of Public Goods," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier.
  10. Hackett Steven & Schlager Edella & Walker James, 1994. "The Role of Communication in Resolving Commons Dilemmas: Experimental Evidence with Heterogeneous Appropriators," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 99-126, September.
  11. Andrew Muller & Michelle Vickers, 1996. "Communication in a Common Pool Resource Environment with Probabilistic Destruction," Department of Economics Working Papers 1996-02, McMaster University.
  12. Timothy N. Cason & Roman M. Sheremeta & Jingjing Zhang, 2009. "Reducing Efficiency through Communication in Competitive Coordination Games," Department of Economics Working Papers 2009-09, McMaster University.
  13. COOPER, R. & DEJONG, D.V. & FORSYTHE, R. & Tom Ross, 1989. "Communication In Coordination Games," Carleton Industrial Organization Research Unit (CIORU) 89-07, Carleton University, Department of Economics.
  14. Heintzelman, Martin & Salant, Stephen W. & Schott, Stephan, 2008. "Putting Free-Riding to Work: A Partnership Solution to the Common-Property Problem," MPRA Paper 9804, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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