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Trust in Private and Common Property Experiments

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Type: Working Paper
Author: Cox, James C.; Ostrom, Elinor; Walker, James M.
Date: 2007
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/4254
Sector: Social Organization
Subject(s): common pool resources
property rights
Abstract: "We report the results from a series of experiments designed to investigate behavior in two settings that are frequently posited in the policy literature as generating different outcomes: private property and common property. The experimental settings closely parallel earlier experimental studies of the investment or trust game. The primary research question relates to the effect of the initial allocation of property rights on the level of trust that subjects will extend to others with whom they are linked. We find that initial endowments as common property lead to marginally greater cooperation or trust than when the initial endowment is fully owned by the first player as private property. Subjects' decisions are also shown to be correlated with attitudes toward trust and fairness measured in post-experiment questionnaires."

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