Organizing the Commons: A Solution to Acting Collectively

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 18:30
Oral Presentation
Pamela EMANUELSON, North Dakota State University, USA
David WILLER, University of South Carolina, USA
This project proposes a new solution to problems of acting collectively. I propose to test that new solution by applying it to the standard public goods experimental paradigm where free riding is otherwise endemic. Whereas psychology, biology and economics look to factors within individuals to suppress free-riding, this study seeks to show that, by organizing relations external to the individual, the problem of free-riding can be circumvented allowing for successful joint action. In the proposed design, group members contribute to a collective good, and a group dealer determines the returns to self and others. A pilot study conducted using students in an introductory social psychology course suggests that dealers developed three distinct strategies for the distribution of returns: proportional, equal and favoritism. Of the three strategies, contributions for equal and favoritism groups showed declines in contributions over time while in proportional groups, contributions increased. Using z-tree, software developed specifically to investigate problems of collective action, the effect of organizing the commons on the success or failure of joint action will be tested under controlled conditions in the Social Research Lab at North Dakota State University.