Experimental Economics

, 14:547 | Cite as

Coordination and cooperation in asymmetric commons dilemmas

  • Marco A. Janssen
  • John M. Anderies
  • Sanket R. Joshi


In this paper we discuss laboratory experiments that address the problem of self-governance in an asymmetric commons dilemma. Small-scale irrigation systems that provide food for hundreds of millions of people around the world are probably the most common example of such dilemmas. Here, we formulate an abstract dilemma in which subjects make both a decision about investment in the provision of infrastructure associated with the use of a resource and about how much to extract from the common-pool resource made available by this infrastructure. The impact of inherent asymmetry in irrigation systems on the provision of a resource and the impact of communication on the capacity of the group to solve the two-level commons dilemma of cooperation and coordination based on the analysis of the experimental data are discussed.


Common-pool resources Asymmetry Irrigation Fairness Real-time experiment 

JEL Classification

C91 C92 Q25 Q57 

Supplementary material

10683_2011_9281_MOESM1_ESM.doc (546 kb)
Appendix to Coordination and Cooperation in Asymmetric Commons Dilemmas (DOC 545 KB)


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Copyright information

© Economic Science Association 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marco A. Janssen
    • 1
  • John M. Anderies
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sanket R. Joshi
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Center for the Study of Institutional DiversityArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  2. 2.School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Center for the Study of Institutional DiversitySchool of Sustainability, Arizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  3. 3.Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity, School of Computing and InformaticsArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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