Local Control: An Educational Model of Private Enforcement of Public Rules

M. Kosfeld, S. Huck

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We study a society of agents where individual incentives conflict with collective ones and thus individual utility maximization leads to inefficient outcomes. We assume that there is no functioning central institution which can control individual behavior. Instead, we analyze a system of what we call local control (LC), where the enforcement of punishment lies in the hands of individuals in the society rather than in the hand of a central institution. The mechanism that governs the spread of control is the educational impact on an agent being controlled by some other agent, where we distinguish between executed and threatened punishment. Agents maximize their payoffs and underlie a constant drift towards not controlling others anymore. Our main results show that LC can survive if the educational impact of control is strong enough relative to the drift. If the educational impact of control is too weak LC breaks down. Moreover, there exists a non{monotonic punishment effect that sets a trap for standard legal policy advices.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationTilburg
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 1998

Publication series

NameCentER Discussion Paper


  • cooperation
  • prisoner's dilemma
  • social control
  • punishment
  • institutional change


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