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In Senegal we encountered a situation in which a minority group of migrant fishermen had completely different sets of expectations regarding a collective action depending on the location where they operated. In one village expectations were pessimistic, while in the other village they were optimistic. Understanding this contrast and its implications provides the main justification for the paper. To be able to account for the contrast between the two areas, pessimistic expectations in the first area have to be traced back to a preceding conflict that could never be settled satisfactorily. A perverse path -dependent process had thus been set in motion that could not be changed by a simple act of will of a determined leadership. To demonstrate the links between expectations and actions that fit with the story told, we propose a simple model of collective action with asymmetric information.