We describe a classroom experimental game focusing on some key economic concepts surrounding water management. The game shows the case of an asymmetric common-pool resource: an irrigation system where players represent irrigating farmers. Dilemmas between individual and collective interests arise, and asymmetry of access to the resource renders it more difficult to reach a cooperative equilibrium. The game is used to test hypotheses about the influence of communication and of water availability on players’ cooperation, hence on the group’s ability to reach equilibrium. The game was used in multiple postgraduate teaching contexts. We show the example of a session played in Tunisia, where communication had a strong and positive impact on cooperation, and compare the results of that session with those of another played in South Africa, where different outcomes emerged from the game. We then discuss the advantages and the limitations of such an experimental game for teaching purposes.
A classroom experimental game to improve the understanding of asymmetric common-pool resource dilemmas in irrigation water management
26 April 2021