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Studying the Commons with Economic Field Experiments and Action Research: Lessons Learned and Challenges that Need to be Overcome

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Vollan, Bjørn; Werthmann, Christine; Kirk, Michael
Conference: Governing Shared Resources: Connecting Local Experience to Global Challenges, the Twelfth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Commons
Location: Cheltenham, England
Conf. Date: July 14-18, 2008
Date: 2008
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1704
Sector: Social Organization
General & Multiple Resources
Subject(s): action research
collective action
natural resources
resource management
Abstract: "The proposed paper synthesises our experience with different economic field experiment from four countries and action research undertaken additionally in two of the countries. The experiments discussed in this paper were carried out in rural communities of Namibia, South Africa, Cambodia and Vietnam. The action research was undertaken in rural communities of the two Asian countries. Both approaches were used to understand people's behaviour towards natural resource management or different institutional settings in community-based projects. We critically reflect the strengths and weaknesses of different types of framed field experiments and discuss different factors that might influence experimental results in the field like experience with former experiments, experience with the task, understanding of the games and formal education. While in action research behaviour is observed over a long time period, experimental games might only represent a snapshot of the situation in the communities. Thus, we also discuss the external validity of the experiments and argue that the experimental results need to be validated with anthropological observations or action research. We argue that the anonymity provided in experiments generates a baseline behaviour but also the largest deviation from observed real-world behaviour in action research."

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