The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Collective Action (New Perspectives)

  • David P. Myatt
Reference work entry


Olson’s logic of collective action predicts that public-good provision is most likely to fail when the size of the consumer group is large; his public goods are partially rival, and so the private cost of provision is relatively high. With a pure public good, this logic no longer applies, and so attention turns to producer groups. When provision involves teamwork (so that the collective action succeeds when everyone works together) then coordination problems arise. Modern techniques suggest that ‘good’ equilibria in which provision is successful are robust only when the costs of provision fall below private rather than social benefits.


Chicken games Collective action Cournot contributions games Critical mass theory Equilibrium-selection problem Externalities Global games Interdependent consumption Interdependent production Market failure Multiple equilibria Olson, M. Provision games Public goods Risk dominance Schelling, T. Selective incentives Strategic voting Strategy revision Teamwork dilemma Volunteer’s dilemma 

JEL classifications

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • David P. Myatt
    • 1
  1. 1.