Can Violence Harm Cooperation? Experimental Evidence

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Publication details

JournalJournal of Environmental Economics and Management
DateAccepted/In press - 22 Jun 2018
DateE-pub ahead of print - 5 Jul 2018
DatePublished (current) - Jul 2018
Number of pages18
Pages (from-to)342-359
Early online date5/07/18
Original languageEnglish


In this paper we argue that natural resource conservation is jeopardised by the ability of users to resort to violence to appropriate resources when they become scarce. We provide evidence from a lab experiment that participants interacting in a dynamic game of common pool resource extraction reduce their cooperation on efficient levels of resource extraction when given the possibility to appropriate the resource at some cost, i.e. through conflict. Theoretically, cooperation is achievable via the threat of punishment strategies, which stop being subgame perfect in the presence of conflict. Accordingly we argue that the observed reduction of cooperation in the game's early stages in the lab is a consequence of participants (correctly) anticipating the use of appropriation when resources become scarce.

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© 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy.

    Research areas

  • Cooperation, Dynamic game, Experiment, Natural resource exploitation

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