KEYNOTE LECTURE: From the Lab to the Field: Cooperation among Fishermen
Jan Stoop, Charles Noussair and Daan van Soest
We conduct a field experiment to measure cooperation among groups of sports fishermen at a
recreational fishing facility. The parameters are chosen so that group earnings are greater when
group members catch fewer fish, in a manner similar to the Voluntary Contributions Mechanism
(VCM). In contrast to received VCM laboratory results, however, we find no evidence of
cooperation. We construct a series of additional treatments to identify causes of the difference.
We rule out the subject pool and the laboratory setting as potential causes, and identify the type of
activity involved as the source of the lack of cooperation in our field experiment. When
cooperation requires a reduction in fishing effort, individuals are not cooperative, whether the
reduction in fishing translates into more money or into more fishing opportunities for the group.