Collective action and the group size paradox

Joan Esteban, Debraj Ray

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    According to the Olson paradox, larger groups may be less successful than smaller groups in furthering their interests. We address the issue in a model with three distinctive features: explicit intergroup interaction, collective prizes with a varying mix of public and private characteristics, and nonlinear lobbying costs. The interplay of these features leads to new results. When the cost of lobbying has the elasticity of a quadratic function, or higher, larger groups are more effective no matter how private the prize. With smaller elasticities, a threshold degree of publicness is enough to overturn the Olson argument, and this threshold tends to zero as the elasticity approaches the value for a quadratic function. We also demonstrate that these results are true, irrespective of whether we examine group sizes over the cross-section in some given equilibrium or changes in the size of a given group over different equilibria.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)663-672
    Number of pages10
    JournalAmerican Political Science Review
    Volume95
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Sep 2001

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    group size
    collective behavior
    Group
    costs
    small group
    interaction
    Values

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science

    Cite this

    Collective action and the group size paradox. / Esteban, Joan; Ray, Debraj.

    In: American Political Science Review, Vol. 95, No. 3, 09.2001, p. 663-672.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Esteban, J & Ray, D 2001, 'Collective action and the group size paradox', American Political Science Review, vol. 95, no. 3, pp. 663-672.
    Esteban, Joan ; Ray, Debraj. / Collective action and the group size paradox. In: American Political Science Review. 2001 ; Vol. 95, No. 3. pp. 663-672.
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