The authors wish to thank the Joyce Foundation for funding this research, the Center for Responsive Politics for assistance with data collection, Professor James Hardin, University of South Carolina, for assistance with programming statistical models, and the reviewers and editors of the American Journal of Political Science for their helpful comments and suggestions.
The Logic of Private and Collective Action
Version of Record online: 3 DEC 2004
American Journal of Political Science
Volume 49, Issue 1, pages 150–167, January 2005
How to Cite
Hansen, W. L., Mitchell, N. J. and Drope, J. M. (2005), The Logic of Private and Collective Action. American Journal of Political Science, 49: 150–167. doi: 10.1111/j.0092-5853.2005.00116.x
- Issue online: 3 DEC 2004
- Version of Record online: 3 DEC 2004
Since Mancur Olson's Logic of Collective Action (1965), it is impossible for political scientists to conceive of political participation without reference to his powerful argument linking numbers of participants, public goods, and participatory outcomes. What is puzzling is the poor empirical support for this argument in the domain where it should work best, namely explaining business political activity. Olson thought his arguments principally applicable to economic groups, and for the empirical development of his arguments Olson drew heavily on business interests, the most active segment of the interest group community. We explore these arguments with business political activities data by examining the statistical performance of various measures of market structure in determining business political activity, and find little empirical support. We do offer an alternative basis for business behavior lodged in both private and collective goods that preserves business rationality and also helps explain not only the amount of business political participation but the modes of business participation.