The Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei series on Economics, the Environment and Sustainable Development
Edited by Carlo Carraro and Vito Fragnelli
Chapter 9: Competition and Cooperation in Natural Resources Exploitation: An Evolutionary Game Approach
Gian Italo Bischi, Fabio Lamantia and Lucia Sbragia 1. INTRODUCTION Since the pioneering work of Gordon (1954), many bioeconomic models for the description of the commercial exploitation of common property renewable resources, such as ﬁsheries, have stressed the problem known as ‘the tragedy of the commons’ (Hardin, 1968; see also Clark, 1990). This problem can be basically identiﬁed with a prisoner’s dilemma (see for example, Mesterton-Gibbons, 1993) because the presence of ﬁrms playing their dominant strategy which maximizes their own proﬁt (disregarding competitors’ proﬁts) leads to severe depletion of the resource, and consequently to low proﬁts for all. On the other hand if ﬁrms cooperate to maximize total proﬁts, then sustainable exploitation is more likely to obtain, which implies higher proﬁts for all in the long run. However, unilateral defection, that is, the decision of an agent to harvest intensively while the other players harvest moderately in order to preserve resources, may lead to very high proﬁts for the defector, and consequently to severe proﬁt loss for the cooperators. This is the essence of the tragedy of the commons, often advanced in order to support the introduction of sanctions against defectors and/or restrictions to open access to common property resources. Dynamic models based on Cournot oligopoly games have been proposed by Levhari and Mirman (1982) and, more recently, by Szidarovszky and Okuguchi (1998, 2000), to describe commercial ﬁshing. In these models, strategic interaction among players is related not only to the selling...
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