Fall 1997 Colloquia

Colloquia during Fall 1997:

September 8, 1997

Red triangleProfessors Vincent and Elinor Ostrom, co-directors, Workshop in Political
Theory and Policy Analysis, Indiana University, will chair a roundtable session for the workshop colloquium on Monday, September 8, 1997.  The roundtable session will be an opportunity for our colleagues on campus, visiting scholars, and students to become acquainted with the research projects currently being pursued at the Workshop.  After the brief discussion of the Workshop research, colleagues will be asked to introduce themselves and to briefly discuss their current work.
There will not be a paper for this session.
Monday, September 15, 1997

Red triangleProfessor Dave Schmidt, Economics Department, Indiana University, will be the speaker for the workshop colloquium on Monday, September 15, 1997.  His presentation is entitled “Coordination Failure: The Role of Risk Dominance, Payoff Dominance, Social History, and Reputation.”  An abstract of his paper [co-authors Elinor Ostrom, Workshop In Political Theory and Policy Analysis, Robert Shupp, Economics Department, and James Walker, Economics Department, Indiana University] is provided below.

In an experimental setting, we examine behavior across four bi-matrix games with multiple equilibria, where one equilibrium payoff dominates the other.  The research focuses on the riskiness (security) of playing the payoff dominant equilibrium, the role of social history in shaping behavior, and the role of reputation in settings that allow for repeated interaction between individuals.  We examine whether game characteristics based on measurements of risk dominance and payoff dominance affect strategy selection.  Two experimental protocols are utilized.  In the Random Match Protocol, players are matched with a different player every decision round, and are never matched with another player more than once.  In the Fixed Match Protocol, players are matched with the same player for every decision round.
Results from the Random Match Protocol suggest that risk dominance plays the more important role in organizing behavior.  One interpretation of these results is that repeated play with the same partner allows subjects to coordinate more successfully on the payoff dominant equilibrium, and the magnitude of the payoff difference between the two equilibria becomes a more important consideration with the opportunity to coordinate.
In the Random Match Protocol, we interpret the importance of history as being linked to the “social history” of the population within which a player makes decisions.  In the Fixed Match Protocol, we interpret history as being linked to reputation.  With both protocols, we find that the history of play is an important determinant of behavior.  In particular, coefficient estimates from a logit analysis suggest that in the Fixed Match Protocol the magnitude of the impact of reputation is larger than that associated with differing characteristics of the game structures.

September 22, 1997

Red triangleProfessor Eric Rasmusen, School of Business, Indiana University, will be the speaker for the workshop colloquium on Monday, September 22, 1997. His presentation is entitled “Creating and Enforcing Norms, with Special Reference to Sanctions.”  An abstract of his paper [co-author Richard A. Posner, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit] is provided below.

Two central puzzles about social norms are how they are enforced and how they are created or modified.  The sanctions for the violation of a norm can be categorized as automatic guilt, shame, informational, bilateral-costly, and multilateral-costly.  Problems in creating and modifying norms are related to which sanctions are employed.  We use our analysis of enforcement and creation of norms to analyze the scope of feasible government action either to promote desirable norms or to repress undesirable ones.

Monday, September 29, 1997

Red triangleProfessor Elinor Ostrom, Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis,
Indiana University, will be the speaker for the workshop colloquium on Monday, September 29, 1997.  Her presentation is entitled "A Behavioral Approach to the Rational Choice Theory of Collective Action."  An abstract of her paper is provided below.

We are now at a juncture where sufficient empirical evidence and theoretical developments in multiple disciplines warrant an effort to expand the range of rational-choice models to be used as a foundation for the study of collective action.  After an introduction to the problem of overcoming social dilemmas through collective action, the remainder of the paper is in six sections.  In Section II, I briefly review the theoretical predictions of currently accepted rational choice theory related to social dilemmas.  Section III will summarize the challenge to the sole reliance on a complete model of rationality presented by extensive experimental research.  In Section IV, I examine two major empirical findings that begin to show how individuals achieve results that are "better than rational" by building conditions where reciprocity, reputation, and trust can help to overcome the strong temptations of short-run self-interest.  Section V raises the possibility of developing second-generation models of rationality.  Section VI develops an initial theoretical scenario.  Section VII concludes by examining the implications of placing reciprocity, reputation, and trust at the core of an empirically tested, behavioral theory of collective action.

Monday, October 6, 1997

Red triangle Mr. Eric Bjornlund,Senior associate and director of Asia programs at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), Washington, D.C. will be the speaker for the Workshop Colloquium on Monday, October 6, 1997. The Workshop In Political Theory and Policy Analysis and the Department of Political Science, Indiana University, are co-sponsoring this presentation. His presentation is entitled "The role of External Assistance to Democratization: Lessons and Prospects." A summary of his talk is provided below.

Eric Bjornlund will be speaking about changes in the assumptions, design, and implementation of various forms of assistance to democratization processes with which he has been involved.

Eric Bjornlund has worked at NDI since 1989, where he has developed and directed international and domestic election monitoring, civic education, political party building, and parliamentary development programs in more than 20 countries in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. He currently oversees NDI's programs in Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, The Philippines, Sri Lank, Taiwan, and Thailand. During 1995, Mr. Bjornlund served as NDI chief of mission in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Mr. Bjornlund has been principal author and/or editor book-length reports on elections in Bangladesh, Cameroon, Pakistan, Miger, Senegal, West Bank and Gaza, and Zambia. mr Bjornlund has been a guest on National Public Radio, Worldnet television, Hong Kong television and Zambian national television, and a guest lecturer at various universities in the U.S. and abroad.

Monday, October 13, 1997

Red triangleDr. Fabrice Lehoucq, Research Associate and Institutional Coordinator, Center for the Study of Institutions, Population and Environmental Change (CIPEC), Indiana University, will be the speaker for the Workshop Colloquium on Monday, October 13, 1997.  His presentation is entitled “Institutionalizing Democracy: Constraint and Ambition in the Politics of Electoral Reform.”  An abstract of his talk is provided below.

This paper is part of a larger project to explain institutional innovation and to assess its impact on the use of fraud in electoral competition.  It examines sociological and rational choice approaches to institutional reform by using data on electoral fraud and reform from Costa Rica, a country noted for the fairness of its electoral institutions and the longevity of its democracy.  It juxtaposes test implications of rival approaches with developments in this country over a sixty-year period beginning in 1890, when parties first appeared, and 1948, when a civil war ended the practice followed by incumbents of manipulating electoral laws for partisan advantage.  The paper focuses on four periods of electoral reform, each of which was an effort to eliminate the causes of the instability previously endemic to its political system.  The objective of this effort is to identify promising leads and false starts in debates about institutional reform.

Monday, October 20, 1997

Red triangle Mr. Chi-kan Richard Hung, Ph.D. Candidate, School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) and the Department of Political Science, Indiana University, will be the speaker for the Workshop Colloquium on Monday, 0ctober 20, 1997. His presentation is entitled "Southern Innovation, Northern Adaptation: The Experience of Group-Based Microcredit Programs in the U.S." An abstract of his talk is provided below.

Credit is an important ingredient of economic development in all societies. In the U.S., making credit more accessible to very small businesses called microenterprises has been suggested as an asset-based approach of poverty alleviation and local economic development. Thus, microcredit programs based on similar experiences in developing countries have been adapted to low-income programs is called peer group lending programs (PGLP) which employs a group mechanism to facilitate interpersonal interactions and to enhance loan performance. This paper reports the findings from a survey of these group-based microcredit programs in the U.S.

Most U.S. programs delegate relatively more decision making authority and access to information to peer groups than to the program staff. The findings in this paper suggest that the intended group level interactions take place as active group screening, monitoring, and loan enforcement activities in response to program rules, especially the empowerment rules that assign authority and access to information. The resulting accumulation of social capital among peer group members cannot be denied. The program staff also play prominent roles in the operation of these programs. The effectiveness of these staff and peer group actions to enhance loan performance is, however, less obvious.

Monday, October 27, 1997

Red triangle Professor Jose R. Molinas, the Hellen Kellogg Institute, University of
Notre Dame, will be the speaker for the Workshop Colloquium on Monday, October 27, 1997.  His presentation is entitled “Who Cooperates? A Study of Membership in Peasant Cooperatives.”  An abstract of his talk is provided below.
This paper analyzes both theoretically and empirically the factors conducive to peasants’ decisions to join a producer organization.  The theoretical results state that the fraction of organized peasants in the village will be high if (i) the higher the gains of cooperation, (ii) the higher the probability of survival of the organization, (iii) the higher the probability of eviction by landlords, and (iv) the lower the peasants’ subjective costs of cooperation.  These results are statistically tested based on two surveys: one at the household level that includes 261 peasant households, and the other at the community level that provides aggregate information about the villages in which these household are located.  The explanatory variables in the regressions are a set of proxies of the gain from cooperation as well as proxies of the probability of survival of the committee, the probability of eviction, and the subjective costs of cooperation.  The most important findings of this econometric analysis are that the likelihood of a peasant household to join a peasant organization is an inverse function of its outside options, participation in other communitarian institutions, possession of a land title, average size of the family labor force, and average welfare level of its community; and a positive function of its income and the performance level of the peasant committee in its community.

Monday, November 3, 1997

Red triangle Professor Edna T. Loehman, Department of Agricultural Economics, Purdue University, will be the speaker for the Workshop Colloquium on Monday, November 3, 1997.  Her presentation is entitled “Testing a Coordination Process for Shared Goods: The possibility of Successful Collective Action.”  An abstract of her talk is provided below. This paper reports the design and testing of a coordination process for finding a group agreement simultaneously about cost sharing and the nature of a shared good.  The process was designed to search for a cost sharing equilibrium, a particular type of Preto optimum.  The cost share equilibrium is a generalization of a Lindahl equilibrium in that it uses personalized prices to determine cost shares. The experiment tested a two-stage game: a proposal phase based on a coordination algorithm; and a voting stage to find a unanimous agreement.  No demand revelation incentives were used, but unanimity voting seemed to inhibit free-riding.  Outcomes close to Pareto optimal were obtained in three rounds, even with some misrepresentation of demands.  Examination of individual behavior reveals that strategic behavior is affected by institutional rules, information, and group interactions.

Monday, November 10, 1997

Red triangle Ms. Charlotte Hess, Workshop In Political Theory and Policy Analysis, Indiana University, will be the speaker for the Workshop Colloquium on Monday, November 10, 1997.  Her presentation is entitled “Environmental Information Collaboration and Reciprocity in Developing Countries:
Applying Self-governing Mechanisms to the Problem of Information Inequity, with a Focus on Africa and a Case Study in Uganda.”  A summary of her talk is provided below.

This session will discuss an ongoing investigation into the problem of information equity between developed and developing countries in the arena of environmental resources. The inquiry started with a simple question: how can the exchange of library resources be improved between the Workshop and collaborating institutes in developing countries? Ensuing examination of the question has revealed complex issues of information equity, the requirement for reciprocal arrangements in collaborative endeavors of information exchange, and the corresponding relationship of self-governing mechanisms in the provision and distribution of information resources.

The focus of this inquiry is on the participating research centers in the International Forestry Resources and Institutions (IFRI) Program, with the Ugandan Forestry Resources and Institutions (UFRIC) Program in the Forestry Department at Makerere University (MUK), Kampala, Uganda as a case study. I will discuss my work with UFRIC and MUK Forestry Dept.  members to build a new research library. During a three-week site visit, I also collaborated with local researchers and librarians to develop alternative methods of collection development and information access and provision.

While much of the development literature focuses on strategies to improve access to information (which is mainly from developed countries) in Africa, I argue that deeper benefits lie IN using the fruits of foreign aid primarily as a tool to develop new types of local research libraries.  Networks of librarians and researchers can be built in order to actively collaborate on the collection and distribution of local scholarly information.  Dilemmas of trust, poverty, and security need to be grappled to begin to develop effective, local systems of information resource sharing.  Ultimately, African scholars can contribute more actively to both the local and global information pool of environmental knowledge and begin to address the problems of local access and information imbalance and inequity.

Monday, November 17, 1997

Red triangle Professor Heike Hennig-Schmidt, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany, will be the speaker for the Workshop Colloquium on Monday, November 17, 1997.  Her presentation is entitled “Break Offs in Bargaining—An Anomaly? Evidence from a Video Experiment.”  An abstract of her talk is provided below.

Break offs are a nonnegligible phenomenon in bargaining.  We ask the question whether our findings can be explained within the game theoretic framework.  The framework assumes that individual rational players are being guided only by economic motivation.  We ask whether one has to assume also noneconomic motivating factors.  To do so we analysed the transcripts of a videotaped bargaining experiment with groups as players where 20% of the sessions ended with a break off.

Potential break offs, however, are discussed in all sessions.   These discussions show that subjects are guided by economic and noneconomic motivations. We found that in addition to the monetary aspect assumed in game theory, concepts have to be considered which have been developed in psychology, i.e., negative reciprocity and power. Based on these findings we present a motivational explanation of potential and actual break offs showing that emotions, especially anger, cause subjects to re-evaluate the outcome of the game.

Monday November 24, 1997

No Colloquium

Monday, December 1, 1997

Professor Michael McGinnis, Department of Political Science, Indiana University, will be the speaker for the Workshop Colloquium on Monday, December 1, 1997.  His presentation is entitled “NGO Response to Complex Humanitarian Emergencies: A Preliminary Analysis." An abstract of his paper is provided below.

Humanitarian aid organizations (HAOs ) are non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that provide emergency supplies of food, medicine, and shelter to peoples displaced by war or domestic conflict. HAOs must raise funds by convincing individual or corporate donors to exchange tangible resources for an intangible sense of well-being or to realize tax breaks and/or by fulfilling contracts with donor governments or intergovernmental orgainizations. HAOs typically arise to serve the ethical concerns and/or material interests of religious organizations, medical professionals, or democratic publics and governments. Relevant members of the U.S.-based InterAction NGO alliance are used to illustrate the ways in which new HAOs arise to fill niches left open by pre-existing organizations. An agenda for future research is laid out, with particular emphasis on what an analysis of HAO activities might be able to tell us about the nature of governance.

Monday, December 8, 1997

Professor John Maxwell, School of Business, Indiana University, will be the speaker for the Workshop Colloquium on Monday, December 8, 1997.  His presentation is entitled “Resource Scarcity and Conflict: An Economic Analysis.”  An abstract of his paper [co-author Rafael Reuveny] is provided.

Within the next 50 years, the world’s human population is likely to exceed nine billion and economic output is likely to quadruple, leading to huge demands on natural resources. Recent evidence collected jointly by the Peace and Conflict studies program at the University of Toronto, and the American Academy of Arts and Science in Cambridge Massachusetts, strongly suggests that current resource scarcities in many areas of the developing world are already leading to political instability and sometimes violent conflict. Furthermore, the academicians associated with these studies predict increasing conflict in the future due to the increasing demands on renewable resources.

While these studies focus on the conditions that are likely to lead to conflict, they do not examine the crucial links between violent conflict, the state of the environment and the economy.  We use a simple Ricardo-Malthusian model featuring the endogenous harvesting of an open access renewable resource, endogenous population dynamics, and conflict, to examine the impact of such conflicts on the stability of the bioeconomic system. Specifically, we model the scarcity of the open access resource as a trigger for political instability and/or violent conflict. Conflict has four impacts in the model. First it increases the death rate. Second, it diverts labor resources away from harvesting the open access resource. Third, it may directly damage the existing stock of the resource, and affect its rate of growth. Finally, it may affect the efficiency of the harvesting technology.

Somewhat surprisingly, we find that violent conflict may serve to stabilize the bioeconomic system. That is, if certain changes, such as technological progress, cause the system to deviate from its peace time steady state equilibrium, we may find that resources become depleted. The system may find its way back to the peace time steady state or it may crash. If conflict is modeled however, it can have two “positive” effects. First it can move the system back to the peace time steady state in a more timely manner, and second, it can move the system back to a peace time steady state in cases where it would otherwise crash. In the latter case, conflict serves as a harsh defense mechanism ensuring the survival of at least some of the human species.

Of course, we do not advocate the use of this macabre mechanism for the survival of the human species.  In fact, our model illustrates that it is the volatility of the system that increases the chance of conflict and/or system collapse. We study the impact of various policies on  system volatility, including birth control, R&D subsidies devoted to enhancing the intrinsic performance of the resource, and policies that limit the attractiveness of harvesting the natural resource.

To request a full text copy of a paper, if it is available, send an email to, or contact Gayle Higgins at

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Last updated:  October 2, 1997