Whereas protests have been discussed predominantly in terms of collective action issues, achieving coordination does not always guarantee success. Protest groups must also back their demands with sufficient threats. Some assert that threats are enhanced by the mobilization of more resources. Yet this conventional wisdom fails to explain why not all large-scale protests win government concessions or why some protest groups spend resources on their organizational infrastructure even though it will not inflict immediate damage on the government. Formalizing protest in a bargaining model, I show that investing in organizational infrastructure improves the impact of protest groups’ threats by lowering the probability that a counter-protest will offset the impact of the original protest.
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