The Unregulated Common Property: The Prisoner's Dilemma Revisited

Jean‐Marie Baland and Jean‐Philippe Platteau

in Halting Degradation of Natural Resources

Published in print March 2000 | ISBN: 9780198290612
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191601613 | DOI:
 The Unregulated Common Property: The Prisoner's Dilemma Revisited

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This chapter analyses the pessimistic view implied by the ‘tragedy of commons’, that uncoordinated human behaviour leads to the destruction of the commons. It identifies the limitations of Ronald Coase’s theory that agents may get involved in voluntary exchanges of their rights to impose externalities on the others. The possibility of spontaneous cooperative behaviour in a strategic framework is examined based on recent developments in non-cooperative game theory. It is argued that many of the problems encountered in unregulated common property are problems of coordination and leadership, thus not adequately represented by the prisoner’s dilemma.

Keywords: unregulated common property; tragedy of the commons; prisoner’s dilemma; destruction of the commons; human behaviour; Ronald Coase; spontaneous cooperative behaviour

Chapter.  16725 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Economic Development and Growth

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