Leadership Without Leaders? Starters and Followers in Online Collective Action

42 Pages Posted: 27 Feb 2013

See all articles by Helen Zerlina Margetts

Helen Zerlina Margetts

Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

Peter John

Department of Political Economy, KCL; University College London - School of Public Policy

Scott A. Hale

Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

Stephane Reissfelder

University of Oxford - Nuffield College of Medicine

Date Written: February 18, 2013

Abstract

The Internet has been ascribed a prominent role in collective action, particularly with widespread use of social media. But most mobilisations fail. We investigate the characteristics of those few mobilisations that succeed and hypothesise that the presence of ‘starters’ with low thresholds for joining will determine whether a mobilisation achieves success, as suggested by threshold models. We use experimental data from public good games to identify personality types associated with willingness to start in collective action. We find a significant association between both extraversion and internal locus of control, and willingness to start, while agreeableness is associated with a tendency to follow. Rounds without at least a minimum level of extraversion among the participants are unlikely to be funded, providing some support for the hypothesis.

Keywords: collective action, experiments, social information, leadership

Suggested Citation

Margetts, Helen Zerlina and John, Peter and Hale, Scott A. and Reissfelder, Stephane, Leadership Without Leaders? Starters and Followers in Online Collective Action (February 18, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2224187 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2224187

Helen Zerlina Margetts (Contact Author)

Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford ( email )

1 St Giles
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 3JS
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.oii.ox.ac.uk

Peter John

Department of Political Economy, KCL ( email )

Strand
London, WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

University College London - School of Public Policy ( email )

29/30 Tavistock Square
London, WC1H 9QU
United Kingdom

Scott A. Hale

Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford ( email )

1 St. Giles
University of Oxford
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 3JS
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.scotthale.net/

Stephane Reissfelder

University of Oxford - Nuffield College of Medicine ( email )

New Road
Oxford, OX1 1NF
United Kingdom

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