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Transmuting Samaritan's Dilemmas in Irrigation Aid: An Application of the Topology of 2x2 Ordinal Games

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Bruns, Bryan
Conference: Capturing the Complexity of the Commons, North American Regional Meeting of the International Association for the Study of the Commons
Location: Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
Conf. Date: Sep. 30-Oct. 2
Date: 2010
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/6538
Sector: Theory
Water Resource & Irrigation
Subject(s): game theory
water resources
institutional analysis
Abstract: "Aid risks discouraging or 'crowding out' local effort in commons such as irrigation systems, posing problems for international development programs, including attempts to promote participatory irrigation management (PIM) and irrigation management transfer (IMT). James Buchanan used game theory models to analyze structures of payoffs and preferences that create what he named Samaritan’s Dilemmas. The topology of 2x2 ordinal games developed by Robinson and Goforth offers a useful tool for examining the relationship between Samaritan’s Dilemmas and other problems of collective action, and the potential for institutional solutions through changing payoffs. In the case of irrigation aid, switches in payoffs that realign incentives to favor joint investments, and thereby transmute Samaritan's Dilemma into a Win-win Commons game, show the potential for counter-intuitive solutions through increased attention to co-management and joint investment in commons."

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