Overcoming Global and Regional Collective Action Impediments

At the outset, the article traces the increased prevalence of transnational collective action to globalization, technological progress, population growth, and enhanced surveillance.  This article then identifies fifteen factors that facilitate successful collective action at the global and regional level.  Generally, collective action problems with more of these facilitators are easier to address and, in some instances, will require no explicit policy intervention.  By identifying essential facilitators and inhibitors, this article indicates where collective action has either a good or bad prognosis.  Thus, scarce policy resources can be directed at those issues where the prognosis is unfavorable.  Much of the article concentrates on spatial considerations, institutional engineering, and aggregator technologies.  For regional collective action concerns, spatial considerations are particularly important since propinquity and relative location of countries influence how actions of other countries affect social well-being.  Simple institutional designs – cost sharing, thresholds, and refunds – can effectively overcome impediments to collective action by making contributors view their net benefits from the viewpoint of the collective.  Throughout the paper, contrasts are drawn between global and regional collective action.  Myriad examples and policy recommendations are offered.

Policy Implications

  • Global collective action can differ fundamentally from regional collective action. These differences must inform policymaking in addressing collective action impediments.
  • Spatial considerations can play an important role in the underlying incentives motivating regional collective action.
  • Scarce policymaking resources should be directed at those collective action problems that face the greatest impediments and/or the fewest facilitators e.g. global warming.
  • The manner in which individual contributions add to the overall amount of the collective action is an essential consideration when designing policies.
  • Simple institutional designs cost-sharing and refunds can effectively overcome impediments to collective action by aligning countries incentives.
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