ing is most likely to be embraced and respected by the people who make the important decisions?

A large existing literature has explored the conditions under which group members opt to appoint a leader to aid them in achieving their goals in a commons dilemma (e.g., Messick et al., 1983; Samuelson and Messick, 1986). It indicates that groups will opt for a leader when they have failed to manage a resource efficiently and inequalities in harvesting outcomes emerge and that followers will endorse leaders when they are successful in maintaining the common resource (Wilke et al.,1986; Wit and Wilke, 1988; Wit et al., 1989). Studies on public goods also point out that leaders are not autocratic decision makers but rather need some form of legitimacy in order to be effective in persuading members to cooperate (Van Vugt and De Cremer, 1999).

Wit and Wilke (1988) examined the role of leaders’ allocation decisions in determining whether or not their leadership is endorsed. Their experiment varied both the outcomes the leader allocated to himself or herself (leader overpayment, leader equal payment, leader underpayment) and his or her allocation to subordinates (participant overpayment, participant equal payment, participant underpayment). They found that leader “endorsement was weakest when the leader overpaid himself or herself” (p. 151) and when the participant making the evaluation had been underpaid relative to other group members. Three more specific findings are also worth noting. First, the leader received his or her greatest endorsement when all allocations were equal. Second, when the leader paid himself or herself less than his or her fair share, participants seemed to take little notice of differences between themselves and other subordinates. Third, when participants were overpaid, they took little notice of how the leader and the other subordinates were paid.

Group Size

Earlier research established the much-replicated tendency of small groups to achieve more cooperative outcomes than larger groups (e.g., Dawes, 1980). One recent study offers an interesting insight into a mechanism that may partly explain this tendency: self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is an individual’s belief that he or she is competent and capable of taking effective action to achieve a given outcome (Bandura, 1986). In a series of experiments, Kerr (1989) demonstrated that even when group size was objectively irrelevant to the impact a participant could have on an outcome, members of small groups felt more “self-efficacious” than members of larger groups. In the last experiment in this series, the effect of group size on assessments of “collective” efficacy—the perception that one’s group can succeed at a given task—was measured. A largely parallel effect to the self-efficacy results was found. When the provision point (proportion of group members demonstrating contributing behavior necessary to achieve the public good) was high (67 percent), group size had no significant impact on assessments of collec-



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement