Journal Article

When Does One Bad Apple Spoil the Barrel? An Evolutionary Analysis of Collective Action

David P. Myatt and Chris Wallace

in The Review of Economic Studies

Published on behalf of Review of Economic Studies Ltd

Volume 75, issue 2, pages 499-527
Published in print April 2008 | ISSN: 0034-6527
Published online April 2008 | e-ISSN: 1467-937X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-937X.2008.00482.x
When Does One Bad Apple Spoil the Barrel? An Evolutionary Analysis of Collective Action

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This paper studies collective-action games in which the production of a public good requires teamwork. A leading example is a threshold game in which provision requires the voluntary participation of m out of n players. Quantal-response strategy revisions allow play to move between equilibria in which a team successfully provides, and an equilibrium in which the collective action fails. A full characterization of long-run play reveals the determinants of success; these include the correlation between players' costs of provision and their valuations for the good. The addition of an extra “bad apple” player can “spoil the barrel” by destabilizing successful teams and so offers a rationale for limiting the pool of possible contributors.

Keywords: B52; D71

Journal Article.  18449 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Economic Methodology ; Analysis of Collective Decision-making

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