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Stimulating Contributions to Public Goods Through Information Feedback: Some Experimental Results

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In traditional public good experiments participants receive an endowment from the experimenter that can be invested in a public good or kept in a private account. In this paper we present an experimental environment where participants can invest time during

In traditional public good experiments participants receive an endowment from the experimenter that can be invested in a public good or kept in a private account. In this paper we present an experimental environment where participants can invest time during five days to contribute to a public good. Participants can make contributions to a linear public good by logging into a web application and performing virtual actions. We compared four treatments, with different group sizes and information of (relative) performance of other groups. We find that information feedback about performance of other groups has a small positive effect if we control for various attributes of the groups. Moreover, we find a significant effect of the contributions of others in the group in the previous day on the number of points earned in the current day. Our results confirm that people participate more when participants in their group participate more, and are influenced by information about the relative performance of other groups.

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Created

Date Created
2016-07-26

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An Iterative Approach to Case Study Analysis: Insights From Qualitative Analysis of Quantitative Inconsistencies

Description

Large-N comparative studies have helped common pool resource scholars gain general insights into the factors that influence collective action and governance outcomes. However, these studies are often limited by missing data, and suffer from the methodological limitation that important information

Large-N comparative studies have helped common pool resource scholars gain general insights into the factors that influence collective action and governance outcomes. However, these studies are often limited by missing data, and suffer from the methodological limitation that important information is lost when we reduce textual information to quantitative data. This study was motivated by nine case studies that appeared to be inconsistent with the expectation that the presence of Ostrom’s Design Principles increases the likelihood of successful common pool resource governance. These cases highlight the limitations of coding and analyzing Large-N case studies.

We examine two issues: 1) the challenge of missing data and 2) potential approaches that rely on context (which is often lost in the coding process) to address inconsistencies between empirical observations theoretical predictions. For the latter, we conduct a post-hoc qualitative analysis of a large-N comparative study to explore 2 types of inconsistencies: 1) cases where evidence for nearly all design principles was found, but available evidence led to the assessment that the CPR system was unsuccessful and 2) cases where the CPR system was deemed successful despite finding limited or no evidence for design principles. We describe inherent challenges to large-N comparative analysis to coding complex and dynamically changing common pool resource systems for the presence or absence of design principles and the determination of “success”. Finally, we illustrate how, in some cases, our qualitative analysis revealed that the identity of absent design principles explained inconsistencies hence de-facto reconciling such apparent inconsistencies with theoretical predictions. This analysis demonstrates the value of combining quantitative and qualitative analysis, and using mixed-methods approaches iteratively to build comprehensive methodological and theoretical approaches to understanding common pool resource governance in a dynamically changing context.

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Created

Date Created
2016-09-09

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Irrigation Experiments in the Lab: Trust, Environmental Variability, and Collective Action

Description

Research on collective action and common-pool resources is extensive. However, little work has concentrated on the effect of variability in resource availability and collective action, especially in the context of asymmetric access to resources. Earlier works have demonstrated that environmental

Research on collective action and common-pool resources is extensive. However, little work has concentrated on the effect of variability in resource availability and collective action, especially in the context of asymmetric access to resources. Earlier works have demonstrated that environmental variability often leads to a reduction of collective action in the governance of shared resources. Here we assess how environmental variability may impact collective action. We performed a behavioral experiment involving an irrigation dilemma. In this dilemma participants invested first into a public fund that generated water resources for the group, which were subsequently appropriated by one participant at a time from head end to tail end. The amount of resource generated for the given investment level was determined by a payoff table and a stochastic event representing environmental variability, i.e., rainfall. Results show that that (1) upstream users’ behavior is by far the most important variable in determining the outcome of collective action; (2) environmental variability (i.e. risk level in investing in the resource) has little effect on individual investment and extraction levels; and (3) the action-reaction feedback is fundamental in determining the success or failure of communities.

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Created

Date Created
2015

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Institutions and the Performance of Coupled Infrastructure Systems

Description

Institutions, the rules of the game that shape repeated human interactions, clearly play a critical role in helping groups avoid the inefficient use of shared resources such as fisheries, freshwater, and the assimilative capacity of the environment. Institutions, however, are

Institutions, the rules of the game that shape repeated human interactions, clearly play a critical role in helping groups avoid the inefficient use of shared resources such as fisheries, freshwater, and the assimilative capacity of the environment. Institutions, however, are intimately intertwined with the human, social, and biophysical context within which they operate. Scholars typically are careful to take this context into account when studying institutions and Ostrom’s Institutional Design Principles are a case in point. Scholars have tested whether Ostrom’s Design Principles, which specify broad relationships between institutional arrangements and context, actually support successful governance of shared resources. This article further contributes to this line of research by leveraging the notion of institutional design to outline a research trajectory focused on coupled infrastructure systems in which institutions are seen as one class of infrastructure among many that dynamically interact to produce outcomes over time.

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Created

Date Created
2016-09-23

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Experimental Platforms for Behavioral Experiments on Social-Ecological Systems

Description

Recently, there has been an increased interest in using behavioral experiments to study hypotheses on the governance of social-ecological systems. A diversity of software tools are used to implement such experiments. We evaluated various publicly available platforms that could be

Recently, there has been an increased interest in using behavioral experiments to study hypotheses on the governance of social-ecological systems. A diversity of software tools are used to implement such experiments. We evaluated various publicly available platforms that could be used in research and education on the governance of social-ecological systems. The aims of the various platforms are distinct, and this is noticeable in the differences in their user-friendliness and their adaptability to novel research questions. The more easily accessible platforms are useful for prototyping experiments and for educational purposes to illustrate theoretical concepts. To advance novel research aims, more elaborate programming experience is required to either implement an experiment from scratch or adjust existing experimental software. There is no ideal platform best suited for all possible use cases, but we have provided a menu of options and their associated trade-offs.

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Created

Date Created
2013-11-30

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A Behavioral Perspective on the Governance of Common Resources

Description

During the last 40 years evidence from systematic case study analysis and behavioral experiments have provided a comprehensive perspective on how communities can manage common resources in a sustainable way. The conventional theory based on selfish rational actors cannot explain

During the last 40 years evidence from systematic case study analysis and behavioral experiments have provided a comprehensive perspective on how communities can manage common resources in a sustainable way. The conventional theory based on selfish rational actors cannot explain empirical observations. A more comprehensive theoretical framework of human behavior is emerging that include concepts such as trust, conditional cooperation, other-regarding preferences, social norms, and reputation. The new behavioral perspective also demonstrates that behavioral responses depend on social and biophysical context.

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Created

Date Created
2015-02-01

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The Effect of Constrained Communication and Limited Information in Governing a Common Resource

Description

Allowing resource users to communicate in behavioural experiments on commons dilemmas increases the level of cooperation. In actual common pool resource dilemmas in the real world, communication is costly, which is an important detail missing from most typical experiments. We

Allowing resource users to communicate in behavioural experiments on commons dilemmas increases the level of cooperation. In actual common pool resource dilemmas in the real world, communication is costly, which is an important detail missing from most typical experiments. We conducted experiments where participants must give up harvesting opportunities to communicate. The constrained communication treatment is compared with the effect of limited information about the state of the resource and the actions of the other participants. We find that despite making communication costly, performance of groups improves in all treatments with communication. We also find that constraining communication has a more significant effect than limiting information on the performance of groups.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
2013-11-30

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The Effect of Spatial Heterogeneity and Mobility on the Performance of Social-Ecological Systems

Description

We use an agent-based model to analyze the effects of spatial heterogeneity and agents’ mobility on social-ecological outcomes. Our model is a stylized representation of a dynamic population of agents moving and harvesting a renewable resource. Cooperators (agents who harvest

We use an agent-based model to analyze the effects of spatial heterogeneity and agents’ mobility on social-ecological outcomes. Our model is a stylized representation of a dynamic population of agents moving and harvesting a renewable resource. Cooperators (agents who harvest an amount close to the maximum sustainable yield) and selfish agents (those who harvest an amount greater than the sustainable yield) are simulated in the model. Three indicators of the outcomes of the system are analyzed: the number of settlements, the resource level, and the proportion of cooperators in the population. Our paper adds a more realistic approach to previous studies on the evolution of cooperation by considering a social-ecological system in which agents move in a landscape to harvest a renewable resource. Our results conclude that resource dynamics play an important role when studying levels of cooperation and resource use. Our simulations show that the agents’ mobility significantly affects the outcomes of the system. This response is nonlinear and very sensible to the type of spatial distribution of the resource richness. In our simulations, better outcomes of long-term sustainability of the resource are obtained with moderate agent mobility and cooperation is enhanced in harsh environments with low resource level in which cooperative groups have natural boundaries fostered by agents’ low mobility.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
2015-01-24

The Effect of Social Preferences on the Evolution of Cooperation in Public Good Games

Description

Human societies are unique in the level of cooperation among non-kin. Evolutionary models explaining this behavior typically assume pure strategies of cooperation and defection. Behavioral experiments, however, demonstrate that humans are typically conditional co-operators who have other-regarding preferences. Building on

Human societies are unique in the level of cooperation among non-kin. Evolutionary models explaining this behavior typically assume pure strategies of cooperation and defection. Behavioral experiments, however, demonstrate that humans are typically conditional co-operators who have other-regarding preferences. Building on existing models on the evolution of cooperation and costly punishment, we use a utilitarian formulation of agent decision making to explore conditions that support the emergence of cooperative behavior. Our results indicate that cooperation levels are significantly lower for larger groups in contrast to the original pure strategy model. Here, defection behavior not only diminishes the public good, but also affects the expectations of group members leading conditional co-operators to change their strategies. Hence defection has a more damaging effect when decisions are based on expectations and not only pure strategies.

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Created

Date Created
2014-07-01

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Advancing the Understanding of Behavior in Social-Ecological Systems: Results From Lab and Field Experiments

Description

Experiments have made important contributions to our understanding of human behavior, including behavior relevant for understanding social-ecological systems. When there is a conflict between individual and group interests in social-ecological systems, social dilemmas occur. From the many types of social-dilemma

Experiments have made important contributions to our understanding of human behavior, including behavior relevant for understanding social-ecological systems. When there is a conflict between individual and group interests in social-ecological systems, social dilemmas occur. From the many types of social-dilemma formulations that are used to study collective action, common-pool resource and public-good dilemmas are most relevant for social-ecological systems. Experimental studies of both common-pool resource and public-good dilemmas have shown that many predictions based on the conventional theory of collective action, which assumes rational, self-interested behavior, do not hold. More cooperation occurs than predicted (Ledyard 1995), “cheap talk” increases cooperation (Ostrom 2006), and participants are willing to invest in sanctioning free riders (Yamagishi 1986, Ostrom et al. 1992, Fehr and Gächter 2000, Chaudhuri 2011). Experiments have also demonstrated a diversity of motivations, which affect individual decisions about cooperation and sanctioning (see Fehr and Fischbacher 2002 and Sobel 2005 for reviews, and Bowles 2008 for policy implications).

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Created

Date Created
2015