A structurational group decision-making perspective on the commons dilemma: Results from an online public goods game

Pilny, A., Poole, M. S., Reichelmann, A., & Klein, B.
Journal of Applied Communication Research
45(4), 413
April 20, 2017


To expand upon perspectives on the commons dilemma, we developed an online experiment grounded in David Seibold and colleagues' structurational perspective on group decision-making. We created manipulations based on three modalities of structure: dense versus sparse networks (domination), collective versus individual identity (signification), and social sanction versus non-social sanction (legitimation). The results revealed that modalities of signification positively influence contribution rates when participants were communicated information meant to stimulate a collective identity. In contrast to our hypotheses, individuals contributed more in sparse, rather than dense network structures. For managers of public goods, our results suggest that communication that emphasizes common identity may be important for mobilizing collective action and that they should also pay special attention to communication overload.

Related publications