Social Choice and Welfare

, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 325–353

Anarchy, groups, and conflict: an experiment on the emergence of protective associations

  • Adam C. Smith
  • David B. Skarbek
  • Bart J. Wilson
Original Paper

Abstract

In this article, we investigate the implications of the philosophical considerations presented in Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia, by examining group formation in a laboratory setting where subjects engage in both cooperative and conflictual interactions. We endow participants with a commodity used to generate earnings, plunder others, or protect against plunder. In our primary treatment, we allow participants to form groups to pool their resources. We conduct a baseline comparison treatment that does not allow group formation. We find that allowing subjects to organize themselves into groups does not lead to more cooperation and may in fact exacerbate tendencies towards conflict.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Anderson T, Hill PJ (2004) The not so wild, wild west: property rights on the frontier. Stanford University PressGoogle Scholar
  2. Bavetta S, Peragine V (2006) Measuring autonomy freedom. Soc Choice Welf 26: 31–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Becker G, Stigler G (1974) Law enforcement, malfeasance, and compensation of enforcers. J Leg Stud 3: 1–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Benson B (1990) The enterprise of law: justice without the state. Pacific Research Institute for Public PolicyGoogle Scholar
  5. Buchanan J (1975) The limits of liberty. Liberty Fund, IndianapolisGoogle Scholar
  6. Caplan B, Stringham E (2002) Networks, law, and the paradox of cooperation. Rev Austrian Econ 16: 309–326CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Carter J, Anderton C (2001) An experimental test of a predator-prey model of appropriation. J Econ Behav Org 45: 83–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cherry T, Frykblom P, Shogren J (2002) Hardnose the dictator. Am Econ Rev 92: 1218–1221CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Childs R (1977) The invisible hand strikes back. J Lib Stud 1: 22–33Google Scholar
  10. Cowen T (1992) Law as a public good: the economics of anarchy. Econ Philos 8: 249–267CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Duffy J, Kim M (2005) Anarchy in the laboratory (and the role of the state). J Econ Behav Org 56: 297–329CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Durham Y, Hirshleifer J, Smith VL (1998) Do the rich get richer and the poor poorer? Experimental tests of a model of power. Am Econ Rev 88(4): 970–983Google Scholar
  13. Ellickson R (1991) Order without law: how neighbors settle disputes. Cambridge University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  14. Esteban J, Sakovics J (2003) Olson vs. coase: coalitional worth in conflict. Theory Decis 55: 339–357CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fleurbaey M, Manique F (1999) Cooperative production with unequal skills: the solidarity approach to unequal production. Soc Choice Welf 16: 569–583CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Friedman D (1973/1989) The machinery of freedom. Open Court Publishing Company, La SalleGoogle Scholar
  17. Friedman D (1994) Law as a private good: a response to Tyler Cowen on the economics of anarchy. Econ Philos 10: 319–327CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Grief A (1993) Contract enforceability and economic institutions in early trade: the Maghribi traders’ coalition. Am Econ Rev 83(3):525-548Google Scholar
  19. Hirshleifer J (1995) Anarchy and its breakdown. J Political Econ 103(1): 26–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hirshleifer J (2001) The dark side of the force. Cambridge University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  21. Hoffman E, Spitzer M (1982) The coase theorem: some experimental tests. J Law Econ 25(1): 73–98CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hoffman E, Spitzer M (1985) Entitlements, rights, and fairness: an experimental examination of subjects’ concepts of distributive justice. J Legal Studies 14(2): 259–297CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hoffman E, McCabe K, Shachat K, Smith VL (1994) Preferences, property rights, and anonymity in bargaining games. Games Econ Behav 7: 346–380CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hume D (1740/2000) In: Norton D, Norton M (eds) A treatise of human nature. Oxford University Press, New York, NYGoogle Scholar
  25. Kimbrough E, Smith VL, Wilson BJ (2008) Historical property rights, sociality, and the emergence of impersonal exchange in long-distance trade. Am Econ Rev 98(3): 1009–1039CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Landes W, Posner R (1979) Adjudication as a private good. J Leg Stud 8: 235–284CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Leeson P (2007a) One more time with feeling: the law merchant, arbitration, and international trade. Indian Jour of Econ and Bus (Special Issue):29-34Google Scholar
  28. Leeson P (2007b) Trading with bandits. J Law Econ:303-321Google Scholar
  29. Leeson P (2008) How important is state enforcement for trade?. Am Law and Econ Rev 10(1): 61–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Mezzetti C (1987) Paretian efficiency, Rawlsian justice, and the Nozick theory of rights. Soc Choice Welf 4: 25–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Miller G (1992) Managerial dilemmas. Cambridge University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  32. Mokyr J (1990) The lever of riches. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  33. Moss L (1980) Optimal jurisdictions and the economic theory of the state: or, anarchy and one-world government are corner solutions. Public Choice 35(1): 17–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Noh SJ (2002) Resource distribution and stable alliances with endogenous sharing rules. Eur J Political Econ 18: 129–151CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Nozick R (1974) Anarchy, state and Utopia. Basic Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  36. Ostrom V (1997) The meaning of democracy and the vulnerability of democracy: a response to Tocqueville’s challenge. University of Michigan Press, Ann ArborGoogle Scholar
  37. Ostrom E, Walker J (1991) Communication in a commons: cooperation without external enforcement. Laboratory Research in Political Economy, University of Michigan Press, Ann ArborGoogle Scholar
  38. Ostrom E, Walker J, Gardner R (1992) Covenants with and without a sword: self-governance is possible. Am Pol Sci Rev 86(2): 404–417CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Powell B, Stringham E (2009) Public choice and the economic analysis of anarchy: a survey. Public Choice 140: 503–538CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Powell B, Wilson BJ (2008) An experimental investigation of Hobbesian jungles. J Behav Econ Org 66(3–4): 669–686CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Ridley M (1997) The origins of virtue. Viking Penguin, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  42. Rothbard M (1973/2006) For a new liberty: the libertarian manifesto. Ludwig Von Mises Institute, AuburnGoogle Scholar
  43. Schelling T (1960) The strategy of conflict. Harvard University PressGoogle Scholar
  44. Skaperdas S (1992) Cooperation, conflict, and power in the absence of property rights. Am Econ Rev 80: 720–739Google Scholar
  45. Skaperdas S (1998) On the formation of alliances in conflict and contests. Public Choice 96: 25–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Smith VL (1982) Microeconomic systems as an experimental science. Am Econ Rev 72: 923–955Google Scholar
  47. Smith VL (2002) Method in experiment: rhetoric and reality. Exp Econ 5: 91–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Smith VL (2008) Rationality in economics: constructivist and ecological forms. Cambridge University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  49. Stringham E (2007) Anarchy and the law: the political economy of choice. Transaction PublishersGoogle Scholar
  50. Sutter D (1995) Asymmetric power relations and cooperation in anarchy. South Econ J 61: 602–613CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Tajfel H, Turner J (1979) An integrative theory of group conflict. In: Henri Tajfel (ed) Differentiation between social groups: studies in the social psychology of intergroup relations. Academic Press, London, pp 33–47Google Scholar
  52. Tullock G (1967) The welfare cost of tariffs, monopolies, and theft. Econ Inq 5(3): 224–232CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Williamson C (2009) Informal institutions rule: institutional arrangements and economic performance. Public Choice 139(3–4): 371–387CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adam C. Smith
    • 1
  • David B. Skarbek
    • 2
  • Bart J. Wilson
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsGeorge Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA
  2. 2.Department of Political Science, Perkins LibraryDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  3. 3.Economic Science InstituteChapman UniversityOrangeUSA

Personalised recommendations