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Dilemmas of Collective Action

What is a collective action dilemma? In this video, Professor Mark Pennington describes an important concept in economics.

Before we explore how self-governing institutions function, we need to consider the problems they are meant to address. In this video, we discuss what economists call collective action dilemmas.

These dilemmas arise in almost all areas of social life where communities must share resources. Such resources include parks, forests, oceans, or even the air we breathe. They can also include more abstract concepts in which we are all stakeholders, like public health or public safety.

Without governance rules to structure how we manage these shared assets, they can fall into disrepair. Depending on what asset we’re talking about, this can mean ecological ruin, greater crime waves or susceptibility to epidemics. The reason we might witness these forms of institutional dysfunction is that people might lack the proper incentives to take care of the assets in question.

In this video, we’ll dig into why incentives matter and how different kinds of governance arrangements can help re-structure incentives to produce more sustainable outcomes.

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The Ideal of Self-Governance: Public Policy Beyond Markets and States

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