The Logic of Collective Action Revisited

60 Pages Posted: 30 May 2018

See all articles by Joachim Weimann

Joachim Weimann

Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg - Institute of Economics and Business Administration; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Jeannette Brosig-Koch

University of Duisburg-Essen - Department of Economics and Business Administration

Timo Heinrich

Technical University Hamburg-Harburg (TUHH)

Heike Hennig‐Schmidt

University of Bonn - Laboratory for Experimental Economics

Claudia Keser

University of Goettingen (Göttingen)

Date Written: April 09, 2018

Abstract

Since Mancur Olson’s “Logic of collective action” it is common conviction in social sciences that in large groups the prospects of a successful organization of collective actions are rather bad. Following Olson’s logic, the impact of an individual’s costly contribution becomes smaller if the group gets larger and, consequently, the incentive to cooperate decreases with group size. Conducting a series of laboratory experiments with large groups of up to 100 subjects, we demonstrate that Olson’s logic does not generally account for observed behavior. Large groups in which the impact of an individual contribution is almost negligible are still able to provide a public good in the same way as small groups in which the impact of an individual contribution is much higher. Nevertheless, we find that small variations of the MPCR in large groups have a strong effect on contributions. We develop a hypothesis concerning the interplay of MPCR and group size, which is based on the assumption that the salience of the advantages of mutual cooperation plays a decisive role. This hypothesis is successfully tested in a second series of experiments. Our result raises hopes that the chance to organize collective action of large groups is much higher than expected so far.

Keywords: public goods, large groups

JEL Classification: C900

Suggested Citation

Weimann, Joachim and Brosig-Koch, Jeannette and Heinrich, Timo and Henning-Schmidt, Heike and Keser, Claudia, The Logic of Collective Action Revisited (April 09, 2018). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 6962, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3185981 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3185981

Joachim Weimann (Contact Author)

Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg - Institute of Economics and Business Administration ( email )

Universitaetsplatz 2
Magdeburg, 39016
Germany

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Jeannette Brosig-Koch

University of Duisburg-Essen - Department of Economics and Business Administration ( email )

Universitätsstr. 9
Essen, 45141
Germany

Timo Heinrich

Technical University Hamburg-Harburg (TUHH) ( email )

Schwarzenbergstrasse 95
Hamburg, DE Hamburg D-21071
Germany

Heike Henning-Schmidt

University of Bonn - Laboratory for Experimental Economics ( email )

Adenauerallee 24-42
Bonn, 53113
Germany

Claudia Keser

University of Goettingen (Göttingen) ( email )

Platz der Göttinger Sieben 3
Göttingen, 37073
Germany

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