This study used data from a field experiment and a quasi-experiment to investigate group formation for collective action in nineteen African villages. The field experiment involved a game that mimicked situations in which development agencies, non-governmental organisations, or government bodies invite villagers to form groups rapidly in order to address a shared problem.
The quasi-experiment occurred as a result of actions taken by the Zimbabwean government. In the early 1980s, displaced people were resettled in new villages made up of unrelated and often unacquainted households. In order to survive and prosper, these villagers had to solve various problems of collective action. To varying degrees, they addressed these problems by setting up Community Based Organisations (CBOs).
Combining data on experimental group and CBO formation with data on village geographies, kinship networks and household characteristics we investigated who groups and who groups with whom.
- kinship provides a basis for informally enforcing agreements
- shared lineage may play a similar role and thereby act a substitute to CBOs as a support for cooperation
- the poor are not excluded
- women and men tend to segregate but it is not to do with distrust
- religion supports collective action: and CBO co-memberships are valued.