Do Water Managers Cooperate in Public Goods Games?

HANDBOOK ON EXPERIMENTAL ECONOMICS AND THE ENVIRONMENT, John List and Michael Price, eds., Edward Elgar, 2011

22 Pages Posted: 26 Mar 2011

See all articles by David Zetland

David Zetland

Leiden University - Leiden University College

Date Written: March 24, 2011

Abstract

Managers of public water companies present themselves and are seen as public servants maximizing public welfare. Because water is rarely allocated through market mechanisms, this maximization requires that managers cooperate in a bureaucratic version of a social dilemma. Members of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MET, a consumer cooperative) face just such a dilemma: MET's member agencies make policies as members (setting prices, for example) that they obey as consumers.

This chapter reports the results of experiments that quantified cooperation among MET's member agency managers (MAMs) using public goods games. The results indicate that MAMs are neither relatively nor absolutely cooperative in comparison to, respectively, groups of students and a threshold efficiency consistent with maximizing social welfare. Additional results on type indicate that MAMs have a larger share of cooperators and free-riders than students, but MAMs are twice as likely to be free-riders as cooperators. MAM also appear to engage in cheap talk: Their responses to trust questions (stated preference) have no correlation with their experimental behavior (revealed preference); student preferences are correlated.

Keywords: Managers, water, intrinsic motivation, public goods, experiments, field experiments

JEL Classification: C9, D7, H42, L32, L95

Suggested Citation

Zetland, David, Do Water Managers Cooperate in Public Goods Games? (March 24, 2011). HANDBOOK ON EXPERIMENTAL ECONOMICS AND THE ENVIRONMENT, John List and Michael Price, eds., Edward Elgar, 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1794145

David Zetland (Contact Author)

Leiden University - Leiden University College ( email )

P.O. Box 13228
Den Haag, 2501EE
Netherlands

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