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Altruism – an alternative value in policy formation and decision making

Donald Gates (Macquarie Graduate School of Management, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia)
Peter Steane (Macquarie Graduate School of Management, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia)

International Journal of Social Economics

ISSN: 0306-8293

Article publication date: 28 August 2009

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to propose an alternative approach to the decision‐ and policymaking that has been practiced in most developed countries for more than a quarter of a century. Such policies followed, to a greater or lesser degree, the policies adopted in the UK and the USA since the period of the Thatcher and Reagan administrations, respectively. These policies proclaimed the supremacy of the market and downplayed government intervention in the marketplace.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper draws upon earlier research by the authors as well as upon published works of other researchers.

Findings

Self‐interest governed the way policies are formed and through a process of extreme capitalism financial leaders took ever‐increasing risks for which executives received lucrative incentive salaries. The recent crash suggests a failure in such policies and this paper proposes an alternative way of operating – the way of altruism. Selfishness and egoism are argued as endemic in economic rationalism and extreme capitalism, replacing selflessness that engenders policies more aligned to altruism.

Research limitations/implications

The research is limited by the ability to examine all the research literature in the field at greater depth. However, the examination that has been possibly indicated that self‐interest and greed, endemic in extreme capitalism and economic rationalism, have made significant contributions to the recent subprime and global financial crises.

Practical implications

This paper provides government and corporate policymakers with an understanding of an alternative value – selflessness as aligned to altruism – than the values of selfishness and greed that are endemic in economic rationalism and extreme capitalism guiding policies that led to the global financial crisis.

Originality/value

The paper fulfils an identified need and supports policymakers seeking to achieve just outcomes for all stakeholders across the globe.

Keywords

Citation

Gates, D. and Steane, P. (2009), "Altruism – an alternative value in policy formation and decision making", International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. 36 No. 10, pp. 962-978. https://doi.org/10.1108/03068290910984759

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited