Large groups and a tendency towards failure: A critique of M. Olson's model of collective action

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

M. Olson argues that large groups are less successful than small groups in achieving their common goals. In this paper, some problems in his explanation of this proposition are examined. We show that this proposition cannot necessarily be deduced from his own mathematical model of rational decision-making. Incentives for some individuals to contribute to the achievement of the group goal can increase as the group size increases. Moreover, Olson's discussion of suboptimality of the achievement of the group goal cannot be derived from his mathematical model. Examination of these difficulties suggests that, in order to explain better the relation of group size to the achievement of group interests, we must take into account the interdependence among individual decision-makers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-271
Number of pages9
JournalThe Journal of Mathematical Sociology
Volume14
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1989 Jan 1
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Collective action
  • Free-rider
  • Group size
  • Public goods
  • Rational man
  • Social dilemma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Algebra and Number Theory
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Large groups and a tendency towards failure: A critique of M. Olson's model of collective action'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this