Public Choice

, Volume 117, Issue 3, pp 315-331

First online:

Which Public Goods are Endangered?: How Evolving Communication Technologies Affect The Logic of Collective Action

  • Arthur LupiaAffiliated withDepartment of Political Science, University of Michigan
  • , Gisela SinAffiliated withDepartment of Political Science, University of Michigan

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The theory in Mancur Olson's The Logicof Collective Action is built fromhistorically uncontroversial assumptionsabout interpersonal communication. Today,evolving technologies are changingcommunication dynamics in ways thatinvalidate some of these onceuncontroversial assumptions. How dothese changes affect Olson's thesis? Usingresearch tools that were not available toOlson, we differentiate collective actionsthat new communication technologies helpfrom the endeavors that they hurt. In theprocess, we refine some of Olson'sbest-known ideas. For example, we find thatevolving communication technologieseliminate many of the organizationaladvantages that Olson attributed to smallgroups.