Waylaid Dialectic

February 5, 2012

Voice and Exit

Filed under: Development Theory — terence @ 10:38 am

As I understand the basic theory of voice and exit in groups (and I know that Hirshman’s thought went much further than this) the idea is that if you are unsatisfied with any aspect of the group you are in you can either express your discontent in the hope of changing it (voice) or you can exit it (exit). Between the two options members can prevent the group from treating them poorly.

This make sense, although often enough it seems to me that something which is almost the reverse of this is at play in many entities/organisations. Here the cost of exit for the individual is high enough — loss of friends and family, loss of property or wages, lack of social alternatives — that it stifles voice. Speak out and you risk being kicked out.

Which is why, I think, that all manner of organisations, even those where we ought to be able to exit such as churches, CSOs, and firms, end up being pretty tyrannical.

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