JCU Game Theory and Tragedy of Commons Common Pool Resources Essay

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Copyright © 2013 by the author(s). Published here under license by the Resilience Alliance. Gelcich, S., R. Guzman, C. Rodriguez-Sickert, J. C. Castilla, and J. C. Cárdenas. 2013. Exploring external validity of common pool resource experiments: insights from artisanal benthic fisheries in Chile. Ecology and Society 18(3): 2. Research, part of a Special Feature on Cooperation, Local Communities, and Marine Social-ecological Systems: New Findings from Latin America Exploring External Validity of Common Pool Resource Experiments: Insights from Artisanal Benthic Fisheries in Chile Stefan Gelcich 1,2, Ricardo Guzman 3,4, Carlos Rodríguez-Sickert 5, Juan Carlos Castilla 1,2 and Juan Camilo Cárdenas 6 ABSTRACT. We explore the external validity of a common pool resource (CPR) laboratory experiment. The experimental subjects were artisanal fishers who exploit benthic resources on the coast of Chile. A first set of subjects was recruited from fishers’ unions that comanage their resources through territorial user right areas. These unions differ in their performance, which is largely the outcome of the cooperative efforts of their members. A second set of subjects was recruited among nonunionized fishers who do not participate in the comanagement system. They fish exclusively in open-access areas and barely cooperate in their fishing. Membership of a union and the union’s performance in comanagement were related to the subjects’ behavior in the laboratory. In the CPR experiment, members of high-performance unions showed high cooperation with each other, while members of low-performance unions cooperated significantly less. Nonunionized fishers did not cooperate at all. We also explored how the weak external enforcement of an individual quota can trigger changes in behavior, what we refer to as internalizing the norm. Only the members of high-performance unions internalized the norm. They refrained from overfishing until the end of the game, even though the sanction for exceeding the quota was not strong enough to be dissuasive from the point of view of pure self-interest. This study provided insight on the experimental analysis of cooperation in artisanal fisheries and suggested that the capacity to internalize norms is important to the sustainable exploitation of artisanal fisheries common pool resources. RESUMEN. Exploramos la validez externa de un experimento de laboratorio con un recurso de uso común. Los sujetos del experimento han sido pescadores artesanales que explotan recursos bentónico en la costa de Chile. Un primer grupo de personas proviene de organizaciones de pescadores que utilizan sistemas de co-manejo explotando estos recursos a través de derechos territoriales de uso. Un segundo grupo de pescadores incluidos en este experimento no pertenecían a organizaciones de pescadores y tampoco participaban en sistemas de co-manejo, pescando de forma exclusiva bajo un régimen de acceso abierto y rara vez cooperan entre ellos. Este trabajo realiza un análisis comparativo entre el desempeño en co-manejo entre estas diferentes organizaciones de pescadores y el comportamiento colaborativo de los pescadores. Los resultados indican que los pescadores miembros de organizaciones con elevado desempeño presentan un alto grado de cooperación entre ellos, mientras que aquellos donde se observa bajo desempeño su nivel de cooperación es también significativamente más reducido. El trabajo también demuestra que los pescadores que no forman parte de organizaciones de pescadores tampoco mostraron ningún tipo de cooperación. Asimismo, tamibén investigamos cómo un débil cumplimiento externo de la normativa en relación a las cuotas de capturas puede provocar cambios en el comportamiento de los pescadores, entendido aquí como internalización de las normas. Sólo los miembros de organizaciones con un Elevado desempeño demuestran haber internalizado las normas. Se abstuvieron de continuar sobrepescando hasta el final de juego a pesar de que la sanción prevista por exceder la cuota no era lo suficientemente disuasoria desde la perspectiva de su propio interés. Este estudio aporta nueva luz sobre el análisis experimental de la cooperación en pesquerías artesanales, y sugiere que la capacidad de internalizar las normas es relevante para la explotación sostenible de recursos comunes en pesquerías artesanales. Key Words: artisanal fisheries; benthic resources; comanagement; common pool resources; internalization of norms; laboratory experiment; small-scale fisheries; territorial user rights 1 Centro de Conservación Marina & Departamento de Ecología, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Chile, Laboratorio Internacional en Cambio Global, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC) & Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (PUC), España-Chile, 3Centro de Investigación en Complejidad Social (CICS), Facultad de Gobierno, Universidad del Desarollo, Santiago, Chile, 4Facultad de Economía y Negocios, Universidad del Desarrollo, Santiago, Chile, 5Centro de Investigación en Complejidad Social (CICS), Facultad de Gobierno, UDD, Santiago, Chile, 6Facultad de Economía, Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia 2 Ecology and Society 18(3): 2 INTRODUCTION In artisanal fisheries, top-down management policies and open-access regimes typically lead to overfishing. To address this problem, some researchers and development agencies are now advocating a shift toward comanagement in which the responsibility for the sustainable use of the common pool resource is shared by authorities and artisanal fishing communities (Ostrom 1990, Sen and Nielsen 1996, Gelcich et al. 2009, Cinner et al. 2012). Comanagement aims to reconcile authorities’ concern for efficiency and sustainability with the communities’ demand for equal opportunities, selfdetermination, and self-control (Fanning 2000). The authorities establish a general legal framework, while the communities regulate the actions of their members and enforce these regulations (Sen and Nielsen 1996, Pomeroy and Berkes 1997). Despite the increasing success of comanagement fishery systems, results have been mixed, and cases of failure still abound. Critical to the success of comanagement systems is the disposition of fishers to cooperate with their community and refrain from overfishing, even in scenarios of weak enforcement. Unfortunately, the determinants of cooperation among artisanal fishers are not yet fully understood (Cinner et al. 2012, Gelcich et al. 2005a,b, 2009). A better understanding is needed to advance the design, implementation, and continual improvement of comanagement systems. Our current understanding of cooperation among artisanal fishers in comanagement settings is mainly derived from case studies (Nielsen et al. 2004, Gelcich et al. 2006, Cinner et al. 2012). These studies suggest several determinants of cooperation: for example, the social capital of the community, the presence of graduated sanctions, and the community’s dependency on the common pool resource (Ostrom 1990, Gelcich et al. 2007, Cinner et al. 2012). However, it is difficult to conclusively identify the determinants of cooperation by analyzing case studies alone because most case studies lack good counterfactuals (George 2005). By controlling for confounding variables, laboratory economic experiments can help identify the determinants of cooperation in the field (Ostrom 2006). Common pool resource (CPR) experiments using subjects who share a real natural resource, e.g., an artisanal fishery, have provided valuable insights in particular (Cárdenas 2003, 2004, 2009, 2011 Cárdenas and Ostrom 2004, Rodríguez-Sickert et al. 2008). Because the subjects, e.g. artisanal fishers, “play” a real CPR game in their daily lives, they can help explore and affirm the robustness of findings from field studies (Cárdenas and Ostrom 2004). During a CPR experiment, each subject privately decides how many units of a resource he will extract. Just like in real life, there is a conflict of interest between the individual and his group; the subject may maximize individual profits by extracting as many units as possible, but this reduces the profit of the other group members. The Nash equilibrium of this game is the depletion of the common pool resource, the so-called tragedy of the commons (Hardin 1968). In practice, however, many experimental results contradict the predictions of the Nash equilibrium. Subjects often manage to cooperate in the sustainable exploitation of the common pool resource and avert the tragedy of the commons (Ostrom 1990, 2006, Ostrom et al. 1992). Field research and case studies can be used to check the correspondence between the subjects’ behavior in the laboratory and their actions in the field (Singh 1994, Ostrom 2006). In experimental analysis, this correspondence is known as external validity. Externally valid experimental results can be useful when designing and implementing comanagement policies; therefore, external validity checks are of crucial importance (Levitt and List 2007). To our knowledge, only four studies have investigated the external validity of CPR experiments. Carpenter and Seki (2011) and Fehr and Leibbrandt (2011) found evidence of external validity, whereas Gurven and Winking (2008) and Hill and Gurven (2004) did not. We present the results of a CPR experiment. The experimental subjects were artisanal fishers who exploit benthic resources on the coast of Chile. The subjects were recruited from two kinds of communities: fishers’ unions that comanage their resources through territorial user right areas, and nonunionized fishers restricted to open-access sites. We investigated the external validity of the experiment, relating the subjects’ behavior in the laboratory to their home community type as a proxy of cooperation: high-performance fishers’ unions, lowperformance fishers’ unions, or nonunionized fishers. We also investigated how weak enforcement can trigger the internalization of an antipoaching social norm, and how the subjects’ propensity to internalize the norm varies with the degree of cooperativeness of their home communities. The unions in our sample differed in their level of dependency on benthic resources. We took advantage of this variability to explore the effects of dependency on cooperation and the internalization of norms. METHODS Research setting We conducted the study in artisanal benthic fisheries located on the coast of Chile. Since 1997, these fisheries have operated under a comanagement regime in which artisanal fishers unions are granted territorial user rights. The territorial user rights allow exclusive access and fishing rights in certain areas of the seabed (Gelcich et al. 2010). These areas are called Management and Exploitation Areas for Benthic Resources (MEABRs). Sen and Nielsen (1996) described a spectrum of comanagement systems ranging from “instructive,” in which Ecology and Society 18(3): 2 the government establishes channels of dialogue with the communities but ultimately imposes its management decisions, to “informative,” in which communities make their own management decisions and inform the government of these decisions. The Chilean comanagement system lies between these two extremes; artisanal fishers’ unions have management and enforcement rights over their MEABRs, and the state enforces fishers’ compliance with MEABR plans. To be granted an MEABR, a fishers’ union must submit a fiveyear management plan to the Undersecretary of Fisheries that commits the union to yearly assessments and implements a total allowable catch. This plan is developed by the union in conjunction with expert consultants. All resources extracted from the MEABR must be reported to the National Fisheries Service, which oversees compliance with the management plan. The union is responsible for adhering to the plan; to that end, it must monitor its members and enforce its internal norms. The National Fisheries Service enforces MEABR plan compliance and has the authority to sanction poachers (Gelcich et al. 2007). Because of its historically high economic value, 90% of existing MEABRs focus on loco (Concholepas concholepas) as their main target species (Castilla and Gelcich 2008). Before the establishment of the comanagement system, access to the loco fishery was open, and the species was overexploited by artisanal fishers (Thorpe et al. 1999). To protect and recover the species, the fishery was closed for four years and then reopened with an individual quotas system. This system was replaced shortly thereafter by the MEABR comanagement system (Schurman 1996, Meltzoff et al. 2002). The loco biomass has recovered within many MEABRs, largely because of the comanagement system (Gelcich et al. 2010). de Rapel. In contrast, nonunionized fishers were restricted by law to dive in open-access sites and did not have permission to harvest loco. As more unions have applied for and extended their MEABRs, open-access sites have become increasingly scarce and less productive. Not surprisingly, many nonunionized fishers harvest loco illegally and poach within MEABRs. The nonunionized fishers who participated in our experiment worked at several sites along the central coast. Figure 1 depicts the geographic location of the fishing sites where the experiment was performed. Fig. 1. Geographic location of the fishing sites where the experiment was performed. Currently, there are 707 MEABRs in operation, and some 30,000 fishers are registered as divers or coastal gatherers who exploit benthic resources and algae (Castilla 2010, SUBPESCA 2010). Despite the large financial investment and the government’s commitment to the MEABR policy, the performance of fishers’ unions has been mixed (Meltzoff et al. 2002, Gelcich et al. 2007, 2008, 2009). Some unions have managed to comply with the regulations and exploit their resources sustainably and profitably. Other unions have failed. Also, some fishers remain nonunionized and are constrained by law to dive in open-access sites, although they often poach within MEABRs, jeopardizing the system. For a detailed account and analysis of the reform of artisanal fisheries in Chile, see Gelcich et al. (2010). The six fishers’ unions in the sample were selected because they exhibited high and low levels of performance (see Table 1). We made a preliminary selection based on previous research experience and on the researchers’ direct knowledge of the unions (Gelcich et al. 2009, Marín et al. 2012). To objectify the final selection, we constructed a performance index that corresponded to an average of seven variables. These variables included measures of internal enforcement and compliance with the union norms, assessed by the union president; measures of comanagement performance, assessed by the National Fisheries Service; and measures of ecological performance, evolution of the total allowable catch, and biodiversity. Even though the performance index is not a direct measure of cooperativeness, all variables included in the index were closely related to cooperation among union members. Appendix 1 provides a detailed description of the performance index. Subjects Our subjects were 85 artisanal fishers; 55 were unionized, and 30 were nonunionized. Unionized fishers worked in six MEABRs located on the central coast of Chile: Maitencillo, El Quisco, Matanzas A, Las Cruces, Matanzas B, and La Boca Cooperative behaviors in fishers’ communities are expressed through a series of institutions and social practices. In terms of their institutions and social practices, high-performance unions, low-performance unions, and nonunionized fishers can be characterized briefly as follows. Ecology and Society 18(3): 2 Table 1. Characteristics of the sampled unions. Union Maitencillo El Quisco Matanzas A Las Cruces La Boca de Rapel Matanzas B§ Performance† High (0,8) High (0,6) High (0,7) Low (0,11) Low (0,19) Low (0,1) Dependency on benthic resources‡ High Medium Low High Medium Low (75%) (23%) (3%) (74%) (25%) (3%) Number of subjects 10 10 10 10 10 5 † This score ranges from 0-1 and is based on the unions’ performance in several dimensions, which are explained in Appendix 1. This is the union’s degree of dependency on benthic resources (excluding algae) during the last 10 years, expressed as a percentage of official landings measured in metric tons (Sernapesca 2012). § Matanzas B had only five participants; it was a small group with few divers willing to participate. ‡ A typical high-performance union has an efficient MEABR committee, which oversees the operation of the MEABR. The committee makes a monthly presentation to the members of the union, covering topics such as harvesting plans, investment plans, and financial management. Compliance with fishing quotas is also addressed during the presentation. To enforce its locally agreed-upon set of norms, a typical highperformance union has an effective system of internal sanctions. These sanctions are graduated, and repeat offenders can be expelled from the union. Norm compliance is high, and the members of the union have a favorable attitude toward compliance. As a result of its well-functioning institutions and practices, the union fully complies with the legal requirements to have an MEABR. Furthermore, the union’s total allowable catch has remained constant or has increased over the past five years. A typical low-performance union does not have a permanent MEABR committee. This type of union has few formal institutions to regulate the operation of its MEABR. Although internal sanctions exist, they are not enforced by the union members. The fishers have developed storylines that vindicate overharvesting loco, and this activity is not frowned upon (see Gelcich et al. 2005a for a detailed analysis of the fishers’ discourses). As a result of its deficient institutions and practices, a typical low-performance union barely complies with the legal requirements to have an MEABR. Furthermore, the union’s total allowable catch has remained constant or decreased in the last five years. Nonunionized fishers understand the advantages of the comanagement system. However, they have opted not to participate for several reasons; they want to fish without restrictions, they are unwilling to incur the costs of operating an MEABR, or they are simply unable to organize and form a union (Gelcich et al. 2005a,b). Nonunionized fishers frequently sneak into MEABRs to poach. Poaching is justified through narratives in which the MEABRs are presented as a fraud created by unions who have usurped historical rights over the marine resources, which were once open to all registered fishers, (Gelcich et al. 2005a). Nonunionized fishers typically dive alone or in pairs. They sell their catch to local restaurants and in other informal markets. Besides having different levels of performance, the six fishers’ unions included in the sample differed in their level of dependency on benthic resources. Dependency was measured as the percentage of total landings that these resources represented in metric tons (see Table 1). Experimental procedure We conducted 18 experimental sessions between March and May 2012. In each session, the subjects were assembled in groups of five to play a CPR game. This game simulated the joint exploitation of a common pool resource, an activity that the subjects often performed in their daily lives. The CPR game was programmed in z-Tree and implemented in the field using a network of portable computers (Fischbacher 2007). To facilitate the use of the computers, each keyboard was covered ...
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Game Theory and Tragedy of the Commons
Institutional Affiliation




Common pool resource
(CPR) Common pool resources are the public or private goods that contain man-made, or
natural resources; examples include, irrigation schemes, fisheries, etc. these resources have
limited supply and dispense decreasing rewards if the people involved are pursuing self-interest.
Common pool resources consist of a central stockpile that describes the stock variable, while the
limited resource is called the flow variable (Ostrom, 2017). The central resources should be
nurtured and protected to ensure that its exploitation is continuous through harvesting and
consumption. Several problems are seen in the shared pool resource areas. These are;
Common pools suffer overconsumption and congestion, and these resources ted to be
overused. This is basically because of it being a variable stock; hence limited resources are
available, and in many cases, all the resources are extracted from these pools. Immense
subtractability, therefore, leads to overuse. Like the example in the fisheries, open access regimes
resulted in extreme fishing. Another problem is inequality; this impact is seen in the case of one
fisherman harvesting a certain amount of fish in the pool. This scenario will be completely
different whe...

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