The Logic of Collective Action

By Mancur Olson,

Book cover of The Logic of Collective Action: Public Goods and the Theory of Groups

Book description

This book develops an original theory of group and organizational behavior that cuts across disciplinary lines and illustrates the theory with empirical and historical studies of particular organizations. Applying economic analysis to the subjects of the political scientist, sociologist, and economist, Mancur Olson examines the extent to which the individuals…

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Why read it?

1 author picked The Logic of Collective Action as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Mancur Olson was one of the most influential social scientists of the 20th century. This slender (though at times dense) volume presents Olson’s thoughts on why shared interests are seldom enough to motivate people to join together in interest groups.

Beginning with the “rational economic man” assumption common in microeconomics, Olson demonstrates that people have powerful incentives not to support organizations that work to obtain collective goods they value.

Olson got a few things wrong, but his argument explains a lot of the political inaction and nonparticipation we see. If you have ever wondered, “Why don’t people join organizations…

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