An evolutionary analysis of the volunteer's dilemma

A public good is produced if and only if a volunteer provides it. There are many pure-strategy Nash equilibria in each of which a single player volunteers. Noisy strategy revisions (for instance, quantal responses) allow play to evolve. Equilibrium selection is achieved via the characterisation of long-run play as revisions approximate best replies. The volunteer need not be the lowest-cost player: relatively high-cost, but nonetheless "reliable" players may instead produce the public good. More efficient players provide when higher values are associated with lower costs. Voluntary open-source software provision offers a contemporary application.

From Journal (Games And Economic Behavior ), published on 31-01-2008


  • David Myatt
  • Chris Wallace


  • Innovation research


  • Intellectual property

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