Fluctuating Efforts and Sustainable Cooperation
Bernardo Huberman, Nathalie Glance
We show that when individuals confronted with a social dilemma contribute to the common good with an effort
that fluctuates in time, they can make the group generate an average utility that actually decreases in time.
This paradoxical behavior takes place in spite of the fact that typically individuals are found to be contributing
at any given time.This novel phenomenon, which we verified in a number of computer experiments, is the result
of an intermittent effect, whereby unlikely bursts of defection determine the average behavior of the group.
Besides providing a dynamical theory for the lognormal distribution found in some sociological data, these
results show that the typical behavior of individuals comprising a group can be inconsistent with its average
Simulating Organizations: Computational Models of Institutions and Groups, Ed: M. Prietula and K. Carley, MIT Press
fluctuations.ps (208.33 kB)