Proceed to Safety

Collectivism (glossary entry)  

Collectivism is one end of a political/ideological dichotomy expressing the tradeoffs that come from placing priorities more heavily on the fulfillment of individual purpose on the one hand, or collective (community/organization/society) purpose on the other.

An Individual Assessment

Consider the question:

Do you live to help and serve others, or do others live to help and serve you?

Taken literally, the question is a tautology (provided that you believe in the existence of other people!), that is to say, it's not "either-or": if the first part is true, the other must be also. But that is not the intent of the question, rather it is about attitude.

A person who tends towards collectivism will answer "Both!", while an individualist would answer "Neither!".

Choice of Activities

You can distinguish your tendency towards collectivism vs. individualism by looking at how you spend time in your life. My MCV05 page discusses several "levels" of human activity, distinguished by how many other people are involved in the activity. Consider each of these and see how much of your time/energy/etc. can be assigned to each level, or alternately think of all the things you do in a typical week and see what level they belong to. The earlier levels (particularly individual and relationship) are favored by individualists; the later levels (particularly society and mankind) are favored by collectivists.

Source of Fulfillment

In a similar manner you can distinguish your tendency towards collectivism vs. individualism by looking at where you get your fulfillment or sense of enjoyment. Look at the levels again and think of all the different things that give you enjoyment or fulfillment, and see what level that thing comes from.

Collectivism In Management

In extreme cases, collectivism in management appears when everything is decided by a group or committee. Individualism appears when every worker decides for himself what to do and how to do it.


Collectivisim is the desire and tendency to emphasize the needs of the many over the needs of the few. Collectivism and its counterpart (INDIVIDUALISM) confer advantages and carry disadvantages that affect all people and their organizations. These positive and negative aspects come into sharpest relief after a group decides to establish official policies about priorities.

As individuals embrace the many issues that are highlighted by conflicting priorities, four ideals come into focus: CONFORMITY and TEAM SPIRIT (individual and group parts of Collectivism) help bind together those members who relinquish personal efficiency and flexibility in order to attain important group objectives. But those alone are insufficient without CREATIVITY and FREEDOM (components of Individualism), which are the fuel that drives each person's innovation, achievement, excellence and success. Almost every core value or standard has at least one of these four ideals at its source: conformity, team spirit, creativity, and freedom.

Those who can successfully navigate the waters of COLLECTIVISM (and Individualism) will find themselves stronger, wiser, and better equipped to cause greatness in themselves, their comrades, and in the community at large.

Robert Munafo's home pages on AWS   © 1996-2022 Robert P. Munafo.aboutcontact
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Details here.

This page was written in the "embarrassingly readable" markup language RHTF, and was last updated on 2014 Aug 01. s.27