Understanding the Incentives for Leaders in Collectives

Women’s collective organizations (WC for short) take many forms: SHGs, “mahila mandals”, co-operatives for undertaking or supporting an economic activity; Nari Sangh etc. These WC are often floated by promoting organizations (PO). They may have the form of a registered entity or remain an informal association of women members. These may be unitary or federal.


Objectives of these collectives also vary: savings and credit; joint or group economic enterprises, pooled marketing; acting as a local pressure group for getting entitlements; advocating for gender justice; countering gender based oppression and violence; facilitating literacy etc. The nature of these goods straddles across all the four types: private, common, toll and public. Thus some of these WC produce and strengthen private goods; some produce and strengthen common goods and others produce public goods.


As professed the following features run common among all / most of these WC:


Membership of the WC is usually voluntary and often without any joining fees; Membership is often based on affinity principle; Leadership of the WC is from among the members; Leadership is usually through a process of selection presumably subsequent to consultation among members; Leadership is usually an unpaid role save for reimbursement of expenses involved Leadership is at least in principle “rotational”.


While membership entails attendance in periodic meetings and participation in gatherings or other forms of collective activities at higher tiers of the Federal structure; if any; leadership role entails much more significant investment of time and energy on the part of the leader. With this background the research aims to understand the process of becoming of leaders in these collectives. The study would specifically look at
• The socio-economic background of the leaders, by using a life history approach.
• Design principles of the collective. Leadership as a ‘role’ in the collective, understanding the member calculus.
• The nature of interdependence of leaders with different actors within the collectives.
• Measuring the role of moral, social and economic incentives for the leaders.


We would be using both qualitative methods and lab in field behavior games. In depth interviews would be undertaken with leaders, and Likert type ordinal scale would be used to understand the incentives.