Strategic Behavior and the Environment > Vol 6 > Issue 4

Potential Games and the Tragedy of the Commons

Robert Mamada, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University, USA, himamada@hotmail.com Adam Lampert, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Simon A. Levin Mathematical, Computational and Modeling Sciences Center Arizona State University, USA, adam.lampert@asu.edu Charles Perrings, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, USA, charles.perrings@asu.edu
 
Suggested Citation
Robert Mamada, Adam Lampert and Charles Perrings (2017), "Potential Games and the Tragedy of the Commons", Strategic Behavior and the Environment: Vol. 6: No. 4, pp 311-338. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/102.00000079

Published: 29 Nov 2017
© 2017 R. Mamada, A. Lampert, and C. Perrings
 
Subjects
Economic Theory:Game Theory
 
Keywords
JEL Codes: P14Q15Q32Q56
Common pool resourcesPotential gamesThe tragedy of the commonsCollapse of societies
 

Article Help

Share

Download article
In this article:
Introduction
Potential Commons Games
The Equilibrium Number of Resource Users under Open Access
Discussion and Concluding Remarks
Appendix A
References

Abstract

The term tragedy of the commons is widely used to describe the overexploitation of open access common pool resources. Open access allows potential resource users to continue to enter the resource up to the point where rents are exhausted. The resulting level of resource use is higher than the socially optimal level. In extreme cases, unlimited entry can lead to the collapse of the resource and the communities that depend on it. In this paper we use potential games to analyze the relation between costs of entry, costs of production, and the equilibrium number of resource users in open access regimes. We find that costs of access and costs of production determine the equilibrium number of resource users. We also find a natural link between Cournot competition and the tragedy of the commons. We discuss the relation between common pool resource management regimes and cost structure and show that cost structures are sufficient to determine the number of resource users accessing the resource.

DOI:10.1561/102.00000079