Leadership without Leaders? Starters and Followers in Collective Action on the Internet
Margetts, H., John, P., Hale, S. A., and Reissfelder, S. (2013). Leadership without Leaders? Starters and Followers in Collective Action on the Internet. Political Studies. Forthcoming. http://arxiv.org/abs/1308.0237
The Internet has been ascribed a prominent role in collective action, particularly with widespread use of social media. But most mobilisations fail. We investigate the characteristics of those few mobilisations that succeed and hypothesise that the presence of ‘starters’ with low thresholds for joining will determine whether a mobilisation achieves success, as suggested by threshold models. We use experimental data from public good games to identify personality types associated with willingness to start in collective action. We find a significant association between both extraversion and internal locus of control, and willingness to start, while agreeableness is associated with a tendency to follow. Rounds without at least a minimum level of extraversion among the participants are unlikely to be funded, providing some support for the hypothesis.