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Special Issues

Empirically based, Agent-based modeling of Social-Ecological Systems

Janssen, M.A and E. Ostrom
2006 Ecology and Society http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/viewissue.php?sf=25.

Institutions and Ecosystems

Janssen, M.A.
2006 Journal of Institutional Economics 2(2).

Resilience, Vulnerability and Adaptation of Human dimensions of Global Environmental Change

Janssen, M.A. and E. Ostrom
2006 Global Environmental Change 16(3): 235-316.

Journal Articles

Empirically based agent-based models

Janssen, M.A. and E. Ostrom

2006 Ecology and Society 11(2): 37.


There is an increasing drive to combine agent-based models with empirical methods. An overview is provided of the various empirical methods that are used for different kinds of questions. Four categories of empirical approaches are identified in which agent-based models have been empirically tested: case studies, stylized facts, role-playing games, and laboratory experiments. We discuss how these different types of empirical studies can be combined. The various ways empirical techniques are used illustrate the main challenges of contemporary social sciences: (1) how to develop models that are generalizable and still applicable in specific cases, and (2) how to scale up the processes of interactions of a few agents to interactions among many agents.

Keywords: Agent-based models; empirical applications; social science methods


Learning, Signaling and Social Preferences in Public Good Games

Janssen, M.A and T.K. Ahn

2006 Ecology and Society 11(2): 21.


This study compares the empirical performance of a variety of learning models and theories of social preferences in the context of experimental games involving the provision of public goods. Parameters are estimated via maximum likelihood estimation. We also performed estimations to identify different types of agents and distributions of parameters. The estimated models suggest that the players of such games take into account the learning of others and are belief learners. Despite these interesting findings, we conclude that a powerful method of model selection of agent-based models on dynamic social dilemma experiments is still lacking.

Keywords: laboratory experiments; public goods; agent-based model; learning; social preferences


A simple mediation and negotiation support tool for water management in the Netherlands

Janssen, M.A., H. Goosen, and N. Omtzigt

2006 Landscape and Urban Planning 78(1-2): 71-84.


When the stakes of stakeholders are not properly incorporated during early phases of a planning process, it may later give rise to severe conflicts. The issue of how to deal with stakeholders in regional water management has been a subject of ongoing debate in the Netherlands. This paper promotes a ‘platform’ approach where stakeholders collectively attempt to develop plans for regional water management. Ideas for this platform approach are based on a review of research on groups governing common-pool resources. We argue that simple negotiation and mediation support tools can offer useful support and can serve to facilitate platform negotiations. We present a simple mediation and negotiation tool to support the early phases of such a land use planning process. The tool translates stakeholder preferences on the use of the landscape into spatially explicit value maps. Proposed plans can be evaluated and potential conflicts can be identified. The use of such a tool enables stakeholders and mediators to formulate explicitly the problems that need to be addressed in the decision-making process.

Keywords: Regional water management; Mediation and negotiation support; Spatial conflicts; Platforms for collaborative planning; Participatory approaches; GIS; Decision support


Dynamic-persistence of cooperation in public good games when group size is dynamic

Janssen, M.A. and R.L. Goldstone

2006 Journal of Theoretical Biology 243(1): 134-142.


The evolution of cooperation is possible with a simple model of a population of agents that can move between groups. The agents play public good games within their group. The relative fitness of individuals within the whole population affects their number of offspring. Groups of cooperators evolve but over time are invaded by defectors which eventually results in the group’s extinction. However, for small levels of migration and mutation, high levels of cooperation evolve at the population level. Thus, evolution of cooperation based on individual fitness without kin selection, indirect or direct reciprocity is possible. We provide an analysis of the parameters that affect cooperation, and describe the dynamics and distribution of population sizes over time.

Keywords: Evolution of cooperation; Group structure; Public good games


Resilience, Vulnerability and Adaptation

Janssen, M.A. and E. Ostrom

2006 IHDP Newsletter 1: 10-11.

Resilience, Vulnerability, and Adaptation: A Cross-Cutting Theme of the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change Program

Janssen, M.A. and E. Ostrom (Editorial)

2006 Global Environmental Change 16(3): 237-239.

The Globalization of Socio-Ecological Systems: An Agenda for Scientific Research

Young, O.R. F. Berkhout, G. Gallopin, M.A. Janssen, E. Ostrom and S. van der Leeuw

2006 Global Environmental Change 16(3): 304-316.


We argue that globalization is a central feature of coupled human–environment systems or, as we call them, socio-ecological systems (SESs). In this article, we focus on the effects of globalization on the resilience, vulnerability, and adaptability of these systems. We begin with a brief discussion of key terms, arguing that socio-economic resilience regularly substitutes for biophysical resilience in SESs with consequences that are often unforeseen. A discussion of several mega-trends (e.g. the rise of mega-cities, the demand for hydrocarbons, the revolution in information technologies) underpins our argument. We then proceed to identify key analytical dimensions of globalization, including rising connectedness, increased speed, spatial stretching, and declining diversity. We show how each of these phenomena can cut both ways in terms of impacts on the resilience and vulnerability of SESs. A particularly important insight flowing from this analysis centers on the reversal of the usual conditions in which large-scale things are slow and durable while small-scale things are fast and ephemeral. The fact that SESs are reflexive can lead either to initiatives aimed at avoiding or mitigating the dangers of globalization or to positive feedback processes that intensify the impacts of globalization. In the concluding section, we argue for sustained empirical research regarding these concerns and make suggestions about ways to enhance the incentives for individual researchers to work on these matters.

Keywords: Globalization; Resilience; Vulnerability; Adaptation; Socio-ecological system


Scholarly networks on resilience, vulnerability and adaptation within the human dimensions of global environmental change

Janssen, M.A., M.L. Schoon, W. Ke, K. Börner

2006 Global Environmental Change 16(3): 240-252.


This paper presents the results of a bibliometric analysis of the knowledge domains resilience, vulnerability and adaptation within the research activities on human dimensions of global environmental change. We analyzed how 2286 publications between 1967 and 2005 are related in terms of co-authorship relations, and citation relations.

The number of publications in the three knowledge domains increased rapidly between 1995 and 2005. However, the resilience knowledge domain is only weakly connected with the other two domains in terms of co-authorships and citations. The resilience knowledge domain has a background in ecology and mathematics with a focus on theoretical models, while the vulnerability and adaptation knowledge domains have a background in geography and natural hazards research with a focus on case studies and climate change research. There is an increasing number of cross citations and papers classified in multiple knowledge domains. This seems to indicate an increasing integration of the different knowledge domains.

Keywords: Knowledge domains; Co-authorship networks; Resilience; Vulnerability; Adaptation; Citations; Publications


Historical institutional analysis of social-ecological systems

Janssen, M.A. (Editorial)

2006 Journal of Institutional Economics 2(2): 127-131.


Institutions, the rules that govern interactions between people, evolve over time. This special issue presents a number of detailed case studies of human–environment interactions during a significant historical period. With social-ecological systems we mean a set of people, their natural and human-made resources, and the relationships among them (Anderies et al., 2004, Janssen et al., 2005).


Diversity of incentives for private forest landowners: an assessment of programs in Indiana, USA

York, A.M., M.A. Janssen and L.A. Carlson

2006 Land Use Policy 23(4): 542-550.


Many government and private programs provide incentives for non-industrial private forest (NIPF) owners. Due to the complexity of this web of programs, the incentives of the programs are unclear. We focus on four specific programs that represent different rule structures—a federal cost-share program, a state tax incentive program, a nationwide private stewardship program, and a local private conservation organization. We perform institutional analysis of the formal and informal rules of the programs based on literature review, discussions with officers, and formal guidelines of the programs. We classify different types of rule structures, and explain them in relation to goals and organizational structures of the programs.

Keywords: Forest; Government programs; Non-governmental organizations; Institutions


Pastoralists’ Responses to Variation of Rangeland Resources in time and space

McAllister R.R.J., I.J. Gordon, M.A. Janssen and N. Abel

2006 Ecological Applications 16(2): 572-583.


We explore the response of pastoralists to rangeland resource variation in time and space, focusing on regions where high variation makes it unlikely that an economically viable herd can be maintained on a single management unit. In such regions, the need to move stock to find forage in at least some years has led to the evolution of nomadism and transhumance, and reciprocal grazing agreements among the holders of common-property rangeland. The role of such informal institutions in buffering resource variation is well documented in some Asian and African rangelands, but in societies with formally established private-property regimes, where we focus, such institutions have received little attention. We examine agistment networks, which play an important role in buffering resource variation in modern-day Australia. Agistment is a commercial arrangement between pastoralists who have less forage than they believe they require and pastoralists who believe they have more. Agistment facilitates the movement of livestock via a network based largely on trust. We are concerned exclusively with the link between the characteristics of biophysical variation and human aspects of agistment networks, and we developed a model to test the hypothesis that such a link could exist. Our model builds on game theory literature, which explains cooperation between strangers based on the ability of players to learn whom they can trust. Our game is played on a highly stylized landscape that allows us to control and isolate the degree of spatial variation and spatial covariation. We found that agistment networks are more effective where spatial variation in resource availability is high, and generally more effective when spatial covariation is low. Policy design that seeks to work with existing social networks in rangelands has potential, but this potential varies depending on localized characteristics of the biophysical variability.


Environmental responsibility and policy in a two country dynamic input-output model

Hoekstra, R. and M.A. Janssen

2006 Economic Systems Research 16(2): 572-583.


Increased spatial dependency of economic activities, as well as spatial differentiation of production and consumption, has implications for environmental policy. One of the issues that has gained importance is the responsibility for the emissions from products that cross national boundaries during the environmental policy’s lifetime. This paper discusses the different ethical views of environmental responsibility. Furthermore, the policy measures that are associated with the different viewpoints are analyzed in a novel dynamic two-country two-sector dynamic input–output model. A numerical example is modeled to assess taxing schemes that are based on these ethical viewpoints. The results show that a tax on the ‘embodied’ environmental pressure, which is generally viewed as ethically preferable, is less effective that the current policy of taxing consumers of products. Our discussion however shows that these results are very dependent on the model structure and initial parameters that are used. Nevertheless, the model illustrates that policies that are based on ethically superior standpoints may have detrimental distortionary effects in the dynamic setting.

Keywords: Dynamic input–output model, international trade, technological change, environmental responsibility.


Generating and fostering novelty

Gunderson, L. H., C. Folke, and M.A. Janssen (Editorial)

2006 Ecology and Society 11(1): 50.

Toward a Network Perspective of the Study of Resilience in Social-Ecological Systems

Janssen, M.A., Ö. Bodin, J.M. Anderies, T. Elmqvist, H. Ernstson, R.R.J. McAllister, P. Olsson, and P. Ryan

2006 Ecology and Society 11(1): 15.


Formal models used to study the resilience of social-ecological systems have not explicitly included important structural characteristics of this type of system. In this paper, we propose a network perspective for social-ecological systems that enables us to better focus on the structure of interactions between identifiable components of the system. This network perspective might be useful for developing formal models and comparing case studies of social-ecological systems. Based on an analysis of the case studies in this special issue, we identify three types of social-ecological networks: (1) ecosystems that are connected by people through flows of information or materials, (2) ecosystem networks that are disconnected and fragmented by the actions of people, and (3) artificial ecological networks created by people, such as irrigation systems. Each of these three archytypal social-ecological networks faces different problems that influence its resilience as it responds to the addition or removal of connections that affect its coordination or the diffusion of system attributes such as information or disease.

Keywords: network topology; resilience; social-ecological systems; social-ecological networks


Evolution of Cooperation when Feedback to Reputation Scores is Voluntary

Janssen, M.A.

2006 Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 9(1).


Reputation systems are used to facilitate interaction between strangers in one-shot social dilemmas, like transactions in e-commerce. The functioning of various reputation systems depend on voluntary feedback derived from the participants in those social dilemmas. In this paper a model is presented under which frequencies of providing feedback to positive and negative experiences in reputation systems explain observed levels of cooperation. The results from simulations show that it is not likely that reputation scores alone will lead to high levels of cooperation.

Keywords: Trust, Reputation, One-Shot Prisoner Dilemma, Voluntary Feedback, Symbols.


Book Chapters

Governing Social-Ecological Systems

Janssen, M.A. and E. Ostrom

2006 In Handbook of Computational Economics II: Agent-Based Computational Economics, edited by L. Tesfatsion and K.L. Judd, pp. 1465-1509, Elsevier Publisher.


Social-ecological systems are complex adaptive systems where social and biophysical agents are interacting at multiple temporal and spatial scales. The main challenge for the study of governance of social-ecological systems is improving our understanding of the conditions under which cooperative solutions are sustained, how social actors can make robust decisions in the face of uncertainty and how the topology of interactions between social and biophysical actors affect governance. We review the contributions of agent-based modeling to these challenges for theoretical studies, studies which combines models with laboratory experiments and applications of practical case studies. Empirical studies from laboratory experiments and field work have challenged the predictions of the conventional model of the selfish rational agent for common pool resources and public-good games. Agent-based models have been used to test alternative models of decision-making which are more in line with the empirical record. Those models include bounded rationality, other regarding preferences and heterogeneity among the attributes of agents. Uncertainty and incomplete knowledge are directly related to the study of governance of social-ecological systems. Agent-based models have been developed to explore the consequences of incomplete knowledge and to identify adaptive responses that limited the undesirable consequences of uncertainties. Finally, the studies on the topology of agent interactions mainly focus on land use change, in which models of decision-making are combined with geographical information systems. Conventional approaches in enviromental economics do not explicitly include non-convex dynamics of ecosystems, non-random interactions of agents, incomplete understanding, and empirically based models of behavior in collective action. Although agent-based modeling for social-ecological systems is in its infancy, it addresses the above features explicitly and is therefore potentially useful to address the current challenges in the study of governance of social-ecological systems.


Adoption of a New Regulation for the Governance of Common-Pool Resources by a Heterogeneous Population

Janssen, M.A., and E. Ostrom

2006 In Inequality, Cooperation, and Environmental Sustainability, edited by Jean-Marie Baland, Pranab Bardhan, and Samuel Bowles, pp. 60-96, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.

Book Reviews

Grimm, V. and Railsback, S. F. (2005). Individual-based Modelling and Ecology. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press

Janssen, M.A.
2006 Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation .


The niche of non-governmental organizations in a changing landscape of citizens’ preferences

Janssen, M.A. and A.M. York
2006 unpublished mimeo.


We investigate nongovernment public service providers within an agent-based computational model of bureaucrats, citizens, and elected officials. Our analysis explores the relationships of all four types of agents in a single, dynamic model. Specifically, we focus on the delivery of public goods to the citizenry through elected officials and bureaucrats. In our computational model citizens have diverse preferences for a variety of public goods. Political parties adapt their programs to get elected. Bureaucrats implement the priorities provided by the elected officials, who try to get reelected. Failure to provide the promised public goods affects the satisfaction of the citizens which may lead to the creation of nongovernment service providers, including for-profit firms and non-profit organizations. The model enables us to analyze how well the preferences of citizens are met for different assumptions of the strategies of elected officials and bureaucrats.

Keywords: local political economy, nongovernmental organizations, preferences, agent- based modeling


Simulating the Motion Picture Market: why do the hits take it all?

Delre, S.A., W. Jager, M.A. Janssen and T.H.A. Bijmolt
2006 Proceedings of the First World Conference on Social Simulation, August 21-25, Kyoto,
Japan, pp.305-312.


Why are shares of the motion picture market so unequally distributed? Do the different qualities of the movies account for such an enormous difference in the market shares? Are mass media campaigns so effective to convince almost all movie visitors to see the same movies? Or are there social processes that affect the movie visitors’ decision making and direct them to visit the same movies? In this paper, we propose an agent-based model based on micro movie goers decision-making that generates the observed macro characteristics of the market. The model is calibrated using a survey conducted on moviegoers and it explains the stylized characteristics of the market in terms of social influence and coordinated consumption. Simulation results indicate that (1) the chances for successful movies to become a hit are higher in entertainment consumption markets than in art consumption markets and (2) if the marketing efforts of movie labels increase, then market shares become more unequally distributed and the differences between the two markets tend to disappear.

Keywords: motion picture market, market shares, marketing effort, social influence, coordinated consumption.


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