, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 71–80 | Cite as

Can small groups avoid the tragedy of the commons?

  • Rogerio Scabim MoranoEmail author
  • Edmilson Alves de Moraes
  • Rafael Ricardo Jacomossi
Original Article


In this research, an agent-based simulation seeks to discuss the tragedy of the commons, collective intelligence and institutions developed by social groups. The concept of the tragedy of the commons states that you can always expect environmental degradation when many individuals freely exploit a scarce resource of common use. Hardin (Science 162:1243–1248, 1968) proposes two alternatives to deal with it: state or privatized administration. However, it is possible another alternative of self-coordination when the social groups are small. That is, the tragedy of the commons could be faced when the synergy within the group—collective intelligence—develops. The focus of this paper is to analyze small groups who promote their coordination to achieve collective goals, aimed at the preservation and perpetuation of scarce natural resources of common use. The results of this research show that the extreme exhaustion of the environment and consequent dissolution of the group that depends on it, is easily observed in many circumstances. However, in small groups, the self-coordination through the development of strong institutions may avoid an eventual tragic outcome of total environment degradation. Additionally, it has been found that social identity influences the behavior of the individuals, determining the social structures.


Tragedy of the commons Collective intelligence Social institutions Agent-based simulation 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rogerio Scabim Morano
    • 1
    Email author
  • Edmilson Alves de Moraes
    • 2
  • Rafael Ricardo Jacomossi
    • 2
  1. 1.UNIFESP-Federal University of São PauloDiademaBrazil
  2. 2.Centro Universitário FEISão PauloBrazil

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