Managing and Defending the Commons: Experimental Evidence from TURFs in Chile

Peer Reviewed
1 September 2018

Carlos A. Chávez, James J. Murphy, John K. Stranlund

This work presents the results of framed field experiments designed to study the joint problem of managing harvests from a common pool resource and protecting the resource from poaching. The experiments were conducted both in the field with TURF users and in the lab with university students. Our study has two objectives. First, we designed our experiments to study the effects of poaching on the ability of common pool resource users to coordinate their harvests when encroachment by outsiders is unrestricted and when the government provides weak enforcement. Second, we examine the ability of common pool resource users to simultaneously coordinate their harvests and investments in monitoring to deter poaching with and without government assistance in monitoring. Weak external monitoring that was predicted to have no effect actually led to significantly lower poaching relative to unrestricted poaching. However, neither giving sole responsibility for monitoring to resource users nor combining user and government monitoring affected poaching levels much. Our results suggest that users of a common pool resource may have difficulties coordinating their efforts to deter poachers, even with help from government authorities. We find no important qualitative differences in the behavior of TURF users and university students.

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Publication reference
Chávez, C. A., Murphy, J. J., & Stranlund, J. K. (2018). Managing and defending the commons: Experimental evidence from TURFs in Chile. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 91, 229–246. doi:10.1016/j.jeem.2018.07.004

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Publication | 28 July 2018