Individual vs Collective Responsibility

Known as the “Group Trap”, the belief is that that you can accomplish, acquire and see greater reward by collective responsibility, than by individual responsibility.

The more responsible an individual is for individual achievements, the greater incentive there is to increase one’s individual effort through the outcome of greater rewards.

The Group Trap

The Group Trap is the assumption that greater strength can be achieved by sharing. Unfortunately however, the opposite happens: Individual achievements are watered down, time and effort are less effective in arranging compromises and individual incentive is reduced.

The individual becomes much less flexible and mobile, because he must deal with others before getting on with the task at hand. As Thoreau said, “The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.”

Collective Responsibility Means Sharing the Rewards of Hard Work

If an individual is required to share what he produces but can also have a share of what others produce, his obvious incentive will be to produce as little as possible and live off the rewards produced by others. Consequently, total production will be reduced and there will be less to split up. An extreme example is Communism vs Libertarianism.

Direct Alternatives

You’re sure to accomplish more for yourself in a situation where you can increase your reward through your own effort. A direct alternative is one that requires only direct action by yourself to get a desired result. An indirect alternative requires that you act to make someone else do what is necessary to achieve your objective.

You control only yourself. That doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to convince someone else to act in a way you’d like him to act. But the process of having to hope for a favourable reaction from someone else makes an indirect alternative less certain than a direct alternative.

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