Edited by Reinhard Bachmann and Akbar Zaheer
Simon (1991) argued that the quality and success of an organization depends to a high degree on how the problem of the organizational commons is handled. The problem of the commons depicts a situation where benefits are jointly gained and shared but costs are borne individually. As no employee can be excluded from the commons some amount of free-riding is likely to occur (Hardin, 1968). Miller (1992) called this cooperation problem the core of the managerial task. The cooperation problem stems from organizational members having different and often conflicting goals, and these individual goals often conflict with the goals of the organization. This situation has been analysed in more general terms in the literature on social dilemmas (for an overview see Dawes, 1980; Brewer and Kramer, 1986; Kollock, 1998). A social dilemma situation arises if the actions of self-interested individuals do not lead to socially desirable outcomes. Because self-interested actions have been proposed to be a fundamental aspect of motivation and behaviour, social dilemmas present a serious problem to the organization of collective action in groups and organizations (Tyler and Degoey, 1996).
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