Handbook of Ecological Economics
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Handbook of Ecological Economics

Edited by Joan Martínez-Alier and Roldan Muradian

This Handbook provides an overview of major current debates, trends and perspectives in ecological economics. It covers a wide range of issues, such as the foundations of ecological economics, deliberative methods, the de-growth movement, ecological macroeconomics, social metabolism, environmental governance, consumer studies, knowledge systems and new experimental approaches. Written by leading authors in their respective areas of specialisation, the contributions systematize the “state of the art” in the selected topics, and draw insights about new knowledge frontiers.
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Chapter 13: From conventional economics to complexity in social dilemmas: lessons from CPR experiments in the lab and the field

Juan Camilo Cárdenas


Ecological systems and social systems interact primarily through decisions taken by humans, determining on the one hand both private and collective outcomes perceived by these individuals, but also affecting the natural and social environment around them. However, the benefits and harms created by these individual actions are not captured only by those who caused it but also by the rest of society and those in future generations, none of whom were consulted about these impacts. Moreover, these human decisions affect the possibility that this ecosystem will continue to be able to provide more environmental goods and services for those individuals and others over time. This chapter focuses on the analysis of human decisions and how they determine – and are determined by – these interactions between social and ecological systems. The progress made by behavioral sciences over the last decades and the tools provided by experimental economics offer us a much better picture today about the decision-making process of individuals who, surrounded by their natural and institutional environments, respond to various material and non-material incentives. Schematically we can illustrate these interactions in Figure 13.1.

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