We investigate the behavioural responses of resource users to two policy interventions: sanctioned quotas and information provisioning. We do so in a context in which multiple resources (pastures and wild animal stocks) are connected and could substantially and drastically deteriorate as a result of management. We perform an experimental study among communities that are managing common pool wildlife in Zimbabwe. We find that user groups manage these resource systems more efficiently when faced with either a policy intervention, or the possibility of a drastic drop in stocks, or a combination of both, compared to groups facing standard resource growth without possibility of a drastic drop. Although a sanctioned quota performs better than information under some circumstances, information can be a good substitute in situations when a quota is either suboptimal or expensive, as is the case in most developing countries. However, the combination of both interventions is better for managing complex ecosystems than either quota or information alone. Our main innovation is applicability of the experimental design, including complexities associated with linked resource systems. Our study also provides pragmatic evidence of the role of carrot and stick institutions versus information provisioning in governing common pool wildlife in Southern Africa. These results can inform policymakers and development practitioners. If they aim to avoid a drastic drop in linked resources, they can use a policy intervention with either a sanctioned quota or information. The combination of both types of intervention might be most appropriate.
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