Olson's Theory Of Collective Action

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The theoretical framework guiding the research study is Olson’s (1965) theory of collective action. The theory’s origin can be traced back to rational choice theory and early group theories. It combines ideas from economics, politics, and social sciences in an attempt to explain individual behavior and group action. Especially, the theory’s application to diverse fields of study and its continued relevance in explaining individual behavior make it suitable for the exploration of the relationship between ICT use and citizenship norms. With regard to the proposed study, the argument can be made that Olson’s (1965) theory is relevant and appropriate as society and government are inherently efforts of collective action. In addition, it is considered…show more content…
It has its starting point in the tensions and discord between individual and group interests, exploring “the basic conflict between self-interest and any ‘natural coming together’ of individuals to solve group problems” (Oppenheimer, 2008, p. 7). More specifically, the theory examines group and organizational behavior, concentrating on the conflict between personal and group interests. Olson (1965) closely examined and analyzed the factors motivating and discouraging collective action as well as the degree of burden to which individuals with a shared interest will commit to attain a common good. The focus of the theory, therefore, is the pursuit of a collective objective in spite of the costs and disincentives discouraging organized efforts. It seeks to understand the “extra-rational” motives and beliefs that overcome impediments and culminate in collective action (Finkel, Muller, & Opp,…show more content…
Indeed, for collective action to take shape a collective good must exist, and individuals must share a common interest in obtaining the same. According to Olson (1965), a collective good is such that “an individual cannot exclude the others in the group from the benefits of that amount of public good he provides for himself” (p. 28). Simply put, a collective good is one that cannot be enjoyed solely by one individual, but inadvertently benefits a group. Likewise, a common interest exists when a group of individuals share a single purpose or objective that cannot or can only inadequately be advanced through individual, unorganized action (Olson,

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