Assumptions that people are selfish can become self-fulfilling prophecies, creating systems that provide lots of individual freedom to act but not a lot of public value or management of collective resources for the greater public good. … Conversely, systems that assume people will act in ways that create public goods, and that give them opportunities and rewards for doing so, often let them work together better than neoclassical economics would predict.
[I]n some cases the group using the resource can manage it better than either the market or the state. Such arrangements among the group often rely on repeated communications and interactions among the participants. [Elinor] Ostrum’s work noted that such shared management often relied on mutually visible action among the participants, credible commitment to the shared goals, and group members’ ability to punish infractions. When these conditions are met, people with the largest stake in the resources can do a better job both in managing the resource and in policing infractions than can markets or government systems designed to accomplish the same goals. [Zubon notes: see also Ronald Coase, both for Coase Theorem and theory of the firm.] … This internalization relies on the finding demonstrated by the Ultimatum Game; namely that people in social circumstances will moderate their behavior to be less selfish.
[P]rior to the present historical generation, motivating unpaid actors to do anything for the civic good was left to governments and nonprofits, themselves institutional actors. Today we can take on some of those problems ourselves, but the more we want to do so at the civic end of the scale, the more we have to bind ourselves to one another to achieve (and celebrate) shared goals.
— Clay Shirky, Cognitive Surplus