Making collective action effective: possibilism versus strategic realism

Publication type: Briefing Paper

Country: Other

Author(s): Mushtaq Khan


Keywords: Political settlement

Making collective action effective: possibilism versus strategic realism

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Good policies and institutions emerge when the collective action that supports them is more effective than the opposition. But what makes some collective action more effective than others?

Understanding this better could help reform-minded leaders, particularly in areas like anti-corruption, where implementation has been particularly poor. There are different ways of thinking about why collective action succeeds but each suggests somewhat different answers. The cost-benefit approach, most often used by economists, provides useful insights about when and how collective action may be successful. But it has well-known limitations as a guide to policy. Two other approaches, possibilism and strategic realism, respond to these weaknesses and provide somewhat different advice.