Sustainability is possible despite greed - Exploring the nexus between profitability and sustainability in common pool resource systems
Authorvon der Osten, FB; Kirley, M; Miller, T
Source TitleScientific Reports
University of Melbourne Author/sMiller, Timothy; Kirley, Michael; Von Der Osten, Friedrich; von der Osten, Friedrich Burkhard
AffiliationComputing and Information Systems
Architecture, Building and Planning
Document TypeJournal Article
Citationsvon der Osten, F. B., Kirley, M. & Miller, T. (2017). Sustainability is possible despite greed - Exploring the nexus between profitability and sustainability in common pool resource systems. SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 7 (1), https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-02151-y.
Access StatusOpen Access
ARC Grant codeARC/DP160102231
The sustainable use of common pool resources has become a significant global challenge. It is now widely accepted that specific mechanisms such as community-based management strategies, institutional responses such as resource privatization, information availability and emergent social norms can be used to constrain individual 'harvesting' to socially optimal levels. However, there is a paucity of research focused specifically on aligning profitability and sustainability goals. In this paper, an integrated mathematical model of a common pool resource game is developed to explore the nexus between the underlying costs and benefits of harvesting decisions and the sustainable level of a shared, dynamic resource. We derive optimal harvesting efforts analytically and then use numerical simulations to show that individuals in a group can learn to make harvesting decisions that lead to the globally optimal levels. Individual agents make their decision based on signals received and a trade-off between economic and ecological sustainability. When the balance is weighted towards profitability, acceptable economic and social outcomes emerge. However, if individual agents are solely driven by profit, the shared resource is depleted in the long run - sustainability is possible despite some greed, but too much will lead to over-exploitation.
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