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Collective action problems and free riding occur in many other situations as well. If union membership is optional and all workers will receive a salary increase regardless of whether they make the time and money commitment to join, some workers may free ride. The benefits sought by unions, such as higher wages, collective bargaining rights, and safer working conditions, are often enjoyed by all workers regardless of whether they are members. Therefore, free riders can receive the benefit of the pay increase without helping defray the cost by paying dues, attending meetings or rallies, or joining protests, like that shown in [link] .

An image of a group of people standing in front of a bus. Some of the people hold signs.
In February 2009, in protest over the “union-busting” efforts of the Rite-Aid Corporation, members of the AFL-CIO demonstrated at the drugstore chain’s corporate headquarters in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. (credit: Amy Niehouse)

If free riding is so prevalent, why are there so many interest groups and why is interest group membership so high in the United States? One reason is that free riding can be overcome in a variety of ways. Olson argued, for instance, that some groups are better able than others to surmount collective action problems.

Olson, Jr., The Logic of Collective Action .
They can sometimes maintain themselves by obtaining financial support from patrons outside the group.
Jack Walker, “The Origin and Maintenance of Interest Groups in America,” American Political Science Review 77 (1983): 390–406.
Groups with financial resources have an advantage in mobilizing in that they can offer incentives or hire a lobbyist. Smaller, well-organized groups also have an advantage. For one thing, opinions within smaller groups may be more similar, making it easier to reach consensus. It is also more difficult for members to free ride in a smaller group. In comparison, larger groups have a greater number of individuals and therefore more viewpoints to consider, making consensus more difficult. It may also be easier to free ride because it is less obvious in a large group when any single person does not contribute. However, if people do not lobby for their own interests, they may find that they are ignored, especially if smaller but more active groups with interests opposed to theirs lobby on behalf of themselves. Even though the United States is a democracy, policy is often made to suit the interests of the few instead of the needs of the many.

Group leaders also play an important role in overcoming collective action problems. For instance, political scientist Robert Salisbury suggests that group leaders will offer incentives to induce activity among individuals.

Robert Salisbury, “An Exchange Theory of Interest Groups,” Midwest Journal of Political Science 13 (1969): 1–32; Peter B. Clark and James Q. Wilson, “Incentive Systems: A Theory of Organizations,” Administration Science Quarterly 6 (1961): 129–166.
Some offer material incentives    , which are tangible benefits of joining a group. AARP, for example, offers discounts on hotel accommodations and insurance rates for its members, while dues are very low, so they can actually save money by joining. Group leaders may also offer solidary incentives    , which provide the benefit of joining with others who have the same concerns or are similar in other ways. Some scholars suggest that people are naturally drawn to others with similar concerns. The NAACP is a civil rights groups concerned with promoting equality and eliminating discrimination based on race, and members may join to associate with others who have dealt with issues of inequality.
https://www.naacp.org/ (March 1, 2016).

Questions & Answers

what's the difference between a Senate house and the parliament
Irene Reply
wat is decentralization
Irene Reply
Good question? its another way of emphasizing locality as a first principle value. assumed is self suffiency, sustainability, redundancy in critical systems but most of all it represents an individual citizens liberty; our rights, a dependence from and freedom from centralized power.
Lance
tnx
Irene
it's also assumed that this freedom is critical to our ability and advantages to be resilient. our full capacity to adapt w out any headwinds or yoke from an over reaching central world power as found in empires and dynasties or for example global neoliberalism virus.
Lance
Well said Lance! It's easy to forget how decentralized our government is. Local people have skin in the game.
Micah
Is it possible for a serious third party to emerge in the United States, positioned ideologically between the Democrats on the left and the Republicans on the right? Why or why not?
Richard Reply
Yes it's possible, but with the two-party system not likely. Here is why: when you have a strong right wing and a strong left wing the results you actually get are closer to the center. In fact, the point of having two parties is to keep the argument going and produce these centrist results.
Micah
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Omohowho Reply
create the most between the competing value of indivualism and limited government
Dora Reply
civil liberties basic freedoms while civil rights are basic right to free from discrimination based on characteristics of race, disability, color national origin, gender, and other..
Sexy Reply
yes I think so
Omohowho
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Official Reply
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Austin
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Irene
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Favour Reply
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Diana Reply
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Shannon
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Don
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Shannon
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Don
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Luretta
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Emmanuela Reply
the most loyal supporters of democrats are
Paulina Reply
the intent to push polls is to
Ivan Reply
I cannot seem to find a clear answer to why the house is stronger than the senate, and every guess I make the check answer says is wrong.
girunit Reply
What is foreign policy
WONDERS Reply
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WONDERS
Three majors the National Liberation council adopted to transfer powers to the civilian government
Boateng
What is bureaucracy
WONDERS Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, American government. OpenStax CNX. Dec 05, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11995/1.15
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