Specialization as a coordination mechanism: a virtual worlds experiment

Peter Twieg, graduate student in economics working with Professor Kevin McCabe, Kevin McCabe, Director of the Center for the Study of Neuroeconomics, GMU
April 2011

This projects investigates specialization using “Second Life,” a virtual environment that allows unstructured interaction. It seeks to explore the possibility that the potential to specialize might carry more subtle benefits such as the creation of focal points which serve to facilitate the establishment of informal property norms in environments without secure property-rights regimes. A confirmation of the main hypothesis of this experiment should have implications that can be tested against historical data, which could perhaps provide some truly valuable insight into historical patterns of institutional development, and may serve to advance our understanding of the factors underlying the historical establishment of property rights in different real-world communities.