University of Leicester
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An economic analysis of collective behaviour: The case of the British Medical Association.

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posted on 2015-11-19, 09:12 authored by P. R. Jones
The central question with which this study is concerned is whether or not Individuals voluntarily contribute to the provision of a collective good. The question is presented in terms of the likelihood that an individual member of a group will subscribe to an association which pursues aims common to all members of that group. Reference is made in particular to the experiences of the medical profession and the question why doctors join the British Medical Association. An awareness on the part of individuals that they possess common interests is often presented as a pre-requisite for collective action. Association growth is frequently explained in terms of the factors that stimulate such an awareness. In this study the history of the B.M.A. is examined to identify such factors and an attempt is made to indicate their relative importance. It is argued, however, that in large groups individuals may be aware that they will benefit by the attainment of common aims, but still refuse to subscribe. Given the non-exclusive nature of the good, there must exist some mechanism by which they will be induced to reveal their preferences. The aim is, therefore, to indicate how individuals have been led to subscribe towards the association. The importance of coercion is discussed. The significance of private goods made available only to members is questioned. The view that membership stems from altruism rather than self-interest is challenged. The importance of uncertainty on the choice of individuals to subscribe is analyzed. The British Medical Association serves mainly to illustrate the basic arguments. Nevertheless an attempt is mede to make quite specific comment on the power and purpose of the Association and its role within the National Health Service.


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University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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