Self Governance Under Weak Rule of Law and Anti-Social Punishment: An Experimental Study Among Kavango Forest Users

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"In order to assess forest resource harvesting and subsequent punishment behaviour in the Kavango woodland savannah of Namibia, we used a framed public goods field-experiment. The extraction game was framed as a task to withdraw timber from a commonly owned and jointly managed forest with external and internal punishment treatments. In this region with a weak rule of law we show that internal punishment (and thus self-governance) is the preferential rule measured in terms of cooperation and resource protection compared with external punishment (Government intervention). We find that antisocial punishment (i.e. the sanctioning of people who cooperate), which often occurs in settings with a weak rule of law, does not prevent cooperative self-governance. We test various hypotheses on the micro-level determinants of antisocial punishment and combine our findings with ethnographic evidence on cooperation and rule of law in the society. We highlight the role of individual revenge and group composition with competitive people as drivers for anti-social punishment."
competition, public goods and bads, justice