6 votes

Exit, voice, or loyalty… what should we do when things go wrong?

1 comment

  1. skybrian
    From the article:

    From the article:

    What is going on? Hirschman pointed to an intriguing case study: railways in Nigeria in the 1960s. Despite poor roads and an 800-mile journey from the peanut farms of northern Nigeria to the ports of Lagos and Port Harcourt, Hirschman observed that trucks comfortably outcompeted the railways. Why?

    One might have expected that as peanut shippers quit trains and leased trucks instead, the railways would have responded. Hirschman argued that the reverse was true. The railways were propped up by the Nigerian state, so exit was no threat. Instead, the threat was voice, in the form of unhappy customers lobbying the government and generally raising hell. But those customers didn’t bother; they quit instead.

    Typically, we think of exit and voice as complementary. Your complaints will be taken more seriously if you can credibly threaten to leave, as anyone who has called to cancel a mobile phone contract can attest. But sometimes exit can silence voice. That is particularly true when “voice” means something more than a mere complaint — taking time-consuming action such as attending council meetings, going on strike or actively campaigning. If you have another option, it is tempting to walk away and take it.

    A similar logic applies to the two-party system that defines the US and remains strong in the UK. Like the Nigerian railways, the dominant parties seem to be a part of the landscape. They are propped up by tradition and the logic of first-past-the-post voting. Exit seems to be no threat to them, especially not to the hardliners who would rather lose than compromise.

    1 vote