The free riding tendency in organizations

Robert Albanese, David D. Van Fleet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


This article describes and analyzes the free riding tendency, a phenomenon that is an inevitable characteristic of organizational life. While recognizing that most people have an intuitive understanding of free riding, the article identifies and explains important elements of free riding theory as it applies to groups within organizations. These elements include individual rational behavior, private and public goods, the effects of group size, and possible counterforces to free riding. Because free riding has implications for group productivity, and because groups are becoming more important in organizations, a greater understanding of group behavior is needed by organizational scholars and by those who work within organizations. Drawing on the discussion of free riding theory, the article identifies several practical conclusions for researchers and practitioners.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-136
Number of pages16
JournalScandinavian Journal of Management Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 1985


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