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Common Pool Resources and Social Norms: Internal Cost and Less Than Full Compliance--Fishery Example

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Kang, Heechan; Haab, Timothy
Conference: American Agricultural Economics Association Annual Meeting
Location: Providence, RI
Conf. Date: July 24-27
Date: 2005
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/5740
Sector: Fisheries
Subject(s): fisheries
common pool resources
tragedy of the commons
collective action
Abstract: "In the recent years, the social norms have been gained much attention from the economists as an important driving force of individual behavior. In particular, a number of studies on the management of common-pool-resource (CPR)by decentralized (endogenous) institutions constituted by local communities of individual have continuously reported the significance of social norm in accounting for the efficient sustainability of CPR. As Hardin (1968) described, this type of resources would be destined to be extinct eventually without specifying property right or intervention of a third party. However, it has been claimed by a number of recent field studies that this tragedy-of-commons metaphor has been overcome in local commons such as forests, pastures and inshore fisheries. In common, they argue that the social norm have always had a primary influence on an individual choice on CPR. A number of field studies also have documented that social norms usually are backed up by a variety of sanctions: frowning faces, verbal assaults, scorn and anger, destruction of equipment, formal punishments (fines) and so forth, which is deemed 'external cost' by non-compliers. Furthermore, a collective sanction becomes more imperative as the extent of its impact on CPR increase and mutual trust by itself may not be sufficient to control people's behavior. In contrast, some scholars have acknowledged another type of cost, called 'internal cost' which emerges internally for breaking social norms thus have a negative effect on one's utility. Coleman (1987) makes the distinction between 'externalized norms' and 'internalized norms'. Crawford and Ostrom (1995) argue that even though the internal cost is not easily observed, the forbidden behavior by a norm can bring it about for one engaging in that action."

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