The Challenge: Collective Action Problems
With crowdacting, we're trying to promote a new way of solving Collective Action Problems (CAPs). Here we'll explain what collective action problems are, and why traditional solutions (like regulation and privatization) have failed.
What are collective action problems?
This gentleman from Duke University explains it much better than we could (don't let the ugly starting screen scare you off - it's actually a great video!). If you don't have sound or if you just feel like reading, please find some more info below.
In short, collective action problems are situations where it is in every person's self-interest to act in a way that has a suboptimal outcome for society at large. For instance: Sure, I can limit my fish consumption, but if nobody else does, my "sacrifice" to not eat fish has no significant impact, since the fish stocks will collapse regardless of my actions. So I might as well eat sushi every day, before we run out of fish!
Many of the issues in the world (small and large) are collective action problems, some more serious than others. For instance:
And the list goes on. In fact, it's quite hard to think of a problem that is not in some way a collective action problem.
Solutions to collective action problems
Traditionally there are two main ways in which collective action problems are addressed:
However, these solutions have their limitations. For instance, certain things are hard to be solved through regulation. Perhaps because there is no political willingness or no (strong enough) authority to solve the issue. For instance, there is no strong enough international authority or agreement that can solve global issues like climate change (although some progress seems to have been made recently, it remains to be seen whether this will be enough).
Also, certain public goods cannot be (or should not be) privatized. For example, how do you privatize certain fish that migrate from one continent to the other regularly?
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