The Logic of Collective Action.doc

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Political Science
Jeffrey Kopstein

The Logic of Collective Action - one purpose for most organizations is the furtherance of their members - the combination of individual interests and common interests in an organizations suggests an analogy with a competitive market - while all firms have a common interest in a higher price, they have antagonistic interests where output is concerned - the fact that profit maximizing firms in a perfectly competitive industry can act contrary to their interests as a group is now widely understood and accepted - if the firms in an industry are maximizing profits, the profits for the industry as a whole will be less than they might be otherwise - though all firms have a common interest in a higher price for the industry’s product, it is in the interest of each firm that the other firms pay the cost - there is a parallel between the problem the perfectly competitive industry faces as it strives to obtain government assistance, and the problem it faces in the marketplace when the firms increase output and bring about a fall in price - patriotism is probably the strongest non-economic motive for organizational allegiance in modern times - no major state in modern history has been able to support itself through voluntary dues or contributions - the common or collective benefits provided by governments are usually called “public goods” by economists, and the concept of public goods is one of the oldest and most important ideas in the study of public finance - the achievement of any common goal or the satisfaction of any common interest means that a public or collective goal has been provided for that group - there is a traditional theory of group behaviour that implicitly assumes that private groups and associations operate according to principles entirely different from those that govern the relationships among firms in the marketplace of between tax payers and the state - in its most casual form, the traditional view is that private organizations and groups are ubiquitous, and that this ubiquity is due to a fundamental human propensity to form and join associations - the formal variant of the traditional view also emphasizes the universality of groups, but does not begin with any “instinct” or “tendency” to join groups - it attempts to explain the association and group affiliations of the present day as an aspect of the evolution of modern, industrial societies out of the “prim
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