Dictionary of Arguments

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Author Item Summary Meta data
Brocker I 475
Collectives/Olson: Olson's starting question is why some groups succeed in providing public goods while others fail. See also Communicative Action/Olson.
Def Group/Olson: a number of actors who share a common interest. (2) Members may also have their own particular interests. A group is interested in the production of a collective good. (1)
Brocker I 476
Thesis 1: The common interest in a good does not necessarily lead to joint action for the production of that good.
Brocker I 479
Thesis 2: It is easier for small and/or privileged groups to provide public goods than large and/or latent groups.
Problem: it can come to the exploitation of more interested members by less interested members.
Brocker I 480
Groups/Olson: small groups have the advantage that the individual contributions are perceived more strongly. Free riding can be punished.
Brocker I 485
Thesis: In large groups, selective incentives are needed to make the production of collective goods possible. Public goods are created as an unintended by-product of rational action. For example, lobbying can be seen as a by-product of organisations capable of mobilising a latent group through 'selective incentives'. (2) Conversely, an organisation could not offer potential members an incentive to become members if it serves no other purpose than to provide the public good: "Only an organisation that also sells private or non-collective goods or provides individual members with beneficial social or recreational facilities would have such positive incentives" (3).
Solution/Olson: When organizations have selective incentives, they develop a robustness and stability that enables them to survive.


1. Mancur Olson, The Logic of Collective Action: Public Goods and the Theory of Groups, Cambridge, Mass. 1965. Dt.: Mancur Olson, Die Logik des kollektiven Handelns: Kollektivgüter und die Theorie der Gruppen, Tübingen 1998 (zuerst 1968)., p. 7
2. Ibid. p. 130f.
3. Ibid. p. 131

Johannes Marx, „Mancur Olson, Die Logik des kollektiven Handelns“, in: Manfred Brocker (Hg.) Geschichte des politischen Denkens. Das 20. Jahrhundert. Frankfurt/M. 2018


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

EconOlson I
Mancur Olson
The logic of collective action: Public goods and the theory of groups Cambridge 1965

Brocker I
Manfred Brocker
Geschichte des politischen Denkens. Das 20. Jahrhundert Frankfurt/M. 2018


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