Monitoring and punishment networks in an experimental common pool resource dilemma

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Ganga Shreedhar, Alessandro Tavoni, Carmen Marchiori
Environment and Development Economics
Issue number: 
December 2019
Cambridge University Press
With the aid of a lab experiment, we explored how imperfect monitoring and punishment networks impacted appropriation, punishment and beliefs in a common pool resource appropriation dilemma. We studied the differences between the complete network (with perfect monitoring and punishment, in which everyone can observe and punish everyone else) and two ‘imperfect’ networks (that systematically reduce the number of subjects who could monitor and punish others): the directed and undirected circle networks. We found that free riders were punished in all treatments, but the network topology impacted the type of punishment: the undirected circle induced more severe punishment and prosocial punishment compared to the other two networks. Both imperfect networks were more efficient because the larger punishment capacity available in the complete network elicited higher punishment amount.
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