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Asymmetric Commons Games in the Laboratory and the Field

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Janssen, Marco A.; Anderies, John M.; Cárdenas, Juan-Camilo
Conference: Workshop on the Workshop 4
Location: Indiana University Bloomington
Conf. Date: June 3-6, 2009
Date: 2009
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/1893
Sector: Theory
Water Resource & Irrigation
Region: Middle East & South Asia
South America
Subject(s): game theory
irrigation
self-governance
rural affairs
efficiency
Abstract: "The emergence of large-scale irrigation systems has puzzled generations of social scientists. Given the challenges of both coordinating activities in a complex network of social interactions and providing public infrastructure, the number of irrigation systems that have evolved without central coordination and have persisted so long is astonishing. Specifically, irrigation systems seem to be vulnerable to selfish rational actors that exploit inherent asymmetries such as simply being the headender or who free ride on the public infrastructure. In this paper we will discuss laboratory and field experiments that address the problem of self-governance in an asymmetric commons dilemma. Laboratory experiments have been performed at Arizona State University, and field experiments have been performed in rural villages in Thailand and Colombia. We formulate an abstract dilemma where participants make both a decision about investment in public infrastructure and how much to extract from the resources generated by that public infrastructure. The impact of inherent asymmetry in irrigation systems on the provision of a public common resource the importance of fairness to generate long term efficiency will be discussed."

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