In the Netherlands the coordination of agri-environmental schemes (AES) is organized exclusively through 40 collectives across the country. Other EU-member states show great interest in this model. However, little is known about farmers’ willingness to cooperate. Therefore, to shed light on this issue, Contracts2.0 carried out a field experiment with 300 German farmers. So far, preliminary results suggest that farmers are more likely to cooperate than expected.

To study the dynamics between self-interest and cooperation among farmers, public goods games were used. Here, farmers received a sum of money to split between a private and a group account. Giving money into the group account is in the collective interest but at odds with individual interests, on the other hand. Pinpointing the optimal social solution did lead to the largest monetary contribution to the group account even though experts predicted differently (see figure).

So far, the  public goods games have presented itself as extremely useful. Researchers and policy makers can easily draw on this application-friendly analytical tool for understanding collaborative behavior. Concrete field implementation as well as results will follow in the coming weeks.