This three-page Concept Brief outlines how development challenges have been viewed as 'collective action problems'. Such a problem arises when the members of a group fail to act together to secure an outcome that has most potential to benefit the group as a whole.
Research has shown that many factors influence whether or not collective action takes place, and their effects can depend entirely on the context. Those interested in encouraging developmental collective action need an in-depth understanding of the collective action problem at hand, the environment in which it occurs, and the relationships among the actors involved. Externally driven interventions may have potentially harmful unintended consequences for collective action on the ground.