Western Washington University Western Washington University ------------------------------------------------------------------------- --------------------------------

Business and its Environment


Commons Game

The commons game is based upon the situation outlined in Garret Hardin's influential essay, The Tragedy of the Commons. The class will share a common resource, which has some positive value, from which each group may extract a 'harvest' during each round of the game. The self-regenerating resource in this simulation is, of course, much simpler than natural systems...but the fundamental structure holds.

What you do know:

*The resource regenerates itself after each harvest, unless it is completely depleted.
*The extent to which the resource is regenerated during each iteration is determined by the amount of the resource that is left after each harvest
*The game mirrors a biological system in that at very low resource levels the resource is replenished at a very slow rate, while at levels approaching maximum capacity the regenerative rate is similarly slow.
*The resource's `ecosystem' has a maximum carrying capacity
*The ecosystem is not at capacity at the start of the game; furthermore, the starting value is somewhere in the range of maximum regeneration
What you do not know:
*The carrying capacity of the system
*The rate at which the commons is regenerated
What has been decided:
*Each group has the right/responsibility to decide how much to extract--or return--at each round (maximum harvest is equal to the resource pool size divided by the number of players in the game; maximum return is equal to the amount extracted in the immediately preceding round)
*Voting will be accomplished by secret ballot
Other than these few guidelines, there are no rules for the commons game...


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