- Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Umea University
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Polo Santa Marta, Via Cantarane 24, Room 1.59
This paper focuses on two questions: 1. How does participatory governance affect competition in the commons? and 2. What happens when there is sudden resource abundance or scarcity? We propose a theory-founded experiment where groups can use two instruments to cooperate: 1. strengthen property rights, and 2. minimize appropriation investments. In the first stage, selected members of the group determine the level of property rights for the common-pool resource. They decide how much of the resource to protect from competition and equally share. In the second stage, the unprotected fraction of the resource is com- peted for. We consider three institutional treatments varying in the extent by which subjects participate in the first stage: vote (i.e. all group members par- ticipate), leader (i.e. only one member decides), and outsider (i.e. third-party imposed). We also vary the initial level of the resource: scarce or abundant. In general, we found that voting reduces competition. Even if groups implemented weak property rights in the first stage, they are able to cooperate in the second stage. When only one group member chooses resource protection, competition is sometimes greater than when property rights are imposed by an outsider. These experimental results are stronger when the resource suddenly becomes abundant than when scarce.