Many public good innovations rely on the voluntary and joint search contributions of individuals, groups or organizations –for example when finding solutions to declining educational systems or environmental challenges. Agents must decide whether to incur privately costly exploration efforts in search of a public good, whose benefits accrue to all and cannot be privately appropriated. We show - theoretically and empirically - that a game with joint search for a public good (exploration game), from a limited number of alternatives, induces higher aggregate exploration compared to a payoff equivalent standard public goods game. This difference exploration is driven by the informational externalities inherent in the search process. This paper thus sheds light on the rational and behavioral as well as motivational and informational drivers of strategic individual exploration for the public good.



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