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Chen-Bo Zhong, Gillian Ku, Robert B. Lount and J. Keith Murnighan

Researchers have proposed a variety of models to depict, explain, and understand ethical decision-making processes. Rest (1986) proposed a four-stage, individually…

Abstract

Researchers have proposed a variety of models to depict, explain, and understand ethical decision-making processes. Rest (1986) proposed a four-stage, individually oriented model, in which a person who makes a moral decision must (1) recognize the moral issue, (2) make a moral judgment, (3) establish moral intent, and (4) make moral decisions. Similarly, Ferrell, Gresham, and Fraedrich (1989) developed a five-stage model that included awareness, cognitions, evaluations, determination, and actions. Finally, Trevino (1986) proposed a slightly different model that begins with the recognition of an ethical dilemma and proceeds to a cognition stage in which individuals make moral judgments that further affect their ethical or unethical decisions (see Jones, 1991, for a review).

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Ethics in Groups
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84950-405-8

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Heath Spong

This chapter makes a case for Adam Smith’s description of the market as a moral exemplar. More specifically, it argues that the behavior of the individual agents who…

Abstract

Purpose

This chapter makes a case for Adam Smith’s description of the market as a moral exemplar. More specifically, it argues that the behavior of the individual agents who inhabit Smith’s market is indeed morally exemplary.

Methodology/approach

The basis for this argument is that economic self-interest drives market participants to look beyond any inherent prejudice or tendency to discriminate on the basis of preconceived opinions or beliefs. Some historical context is provided that illustrates conservative opposition to this perspective from unlikely sources.

A simple moral framework is created to provide one possible representation of Smith’s interpretation of the market. In this framework self-interest is characterized as a “trump” that overcomes potential prejudices. It is further argued that this framework can be considered a moral exemplar, and that it is also important in facilitating exchange between participants.

Findings

The central argument is tested when the self-interest criterion is exposed to competition from the alternative moral value of altruism. The moral framework presented, and the principle of economic self-interest in particular, is resilient against this moral challenge.

Social implications

The social implications of this argument relate directly to our normative understanding of how individuals should behave in a market context. The chapter establishes a link between this moral framework and the functioning of the market.

Originality/value of paper

The chapter is original in its attempt to defend the underlying morality of Smith’s market without recourse to his other works, such as the Theory of Moral Sentiments. It also links an understanding of market egalitarianism with a broader moral framework of market activity. Furthermore, it offers a clarification of why economic self-interest, and not altruism, is the appropriate motivation for market activity.

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Moral Saints and Moral Exemplars
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78350-075-8

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Article

George Gotsis and Zoe Kortezi

The aim of this paper is to critically explore the behavioral assumptions of organizational politics, as well as to reconsider and redefine the premises of political…

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this paper is to critically explore the behavioral assumptions of organizational politics, as well as to reconsider and redefine the premises of political behavior in the workplace. The main objective is examination of the presuppositions associated with the possibility of constructive politics in organizational settings.

Design/methodology/approach

The deficiencies of explaining managerial activity as solely regulated by self‐interest are discussed, as well as a revised version of self‐interest that may enrich current understanding of workplace politics. Drawing on the respective literature, the authors develop some propositions and suggest, assess and discuss a conceptual framework that integrates self‐interest and constructive politics.

Findings

The paper represents an attempt toward inferring positive political behavior through adopting an alternative view of established behavioral assumptions. This view purports to reduce the existing discrepancy between different types of political behavior in defending the possibility of an inclusive, participative and welfare‐enhancing political process, founded on the pro‐social and reciprocating aspects of human interaction. Boundedly selfish organizational members are expected to demonstrate these qualities that are in position to transform the very nature of political activities to the direction of greater organizational good.

Originality/value

The paper reevaluates the self‐interested nature of organizational politics through the introduction of a bounded self‐interest assumption as more representative of actual human behavior. This new construct embodies those constraints that make trust formation, networking and reciprocities operative in environments effectively embedding political behavior in broader, organizational goal‐oriented processes and structures.

Details

Management Research Review, vol. 34 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8269

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David Sloan Wilson

Darwin’s theory of natural selection, which explains how individual organisms can become exquisitely adapted to their environments, does not explain the evolution of…

Abstract

Darwin’s theory of natural selection, which explains how individual organisms can become exquisitely adapted to their environments, does not explain the evolution of adaptive societies with equal ease. To understand the nature of the problem, imagine a mutant individual who behaves in a way that increases the survival of everyone in her society, including herself, to an equal degree. Such a “no-cost public good” might not appear very feasible (and will soon be amended), but is useful for illustrative purposes. By increasing the fitness of everyone, the mutant trait will not increase in frequency within the society (other than by drift, which can equally cause a decrease in frequency). This example illustrates the elementary fact that natural selection is based on relative fitness. It’s not enough for a mutant trait to increase its own survival and reproduction; it must do so more than alternative traits in the population. The relative nature of fitness makes the evolutionary forces within a population insensitive to the welfare of the population as a whole.

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Evolutionary Psychology and Economic Theory
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-76231-138-5

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Article

Clive Beed and Cara Beed

The Neoclassical approach to analysing personal choice is compared with an approach contained in a Biblical Christian mode of analysis. This paper compares the…

Abstract

The Neoclassical approach to analysing personal choice is compared with an approach contained in a Biblical Christian mode of analysis. This paper compares the Neoclassical and Christian positions via analysis of characteristics of the Neoclassical rational choice model. The main characteristic examined is a basic assumption of the rational choice model that human choice is explained as the optimisation of utility via rational self‐interest. The two positions are compared in terms of how they treat self‐interest and rationality, the degree to which basic assumptions about human behaviour are specified, the importance they attach to the realism of assumptions underlying their models, and the explanatory and predictive purposes for which the models are used. The conclusion of the comparison is that the Biblical Christian perspective encompasses the variables regarded as important in Neoclassical explanation, but presents them in the context of a more embracing worldview perspective than the Neoclassical. This Christian belief perspective is applicable to human behaviour in both “economic” and “non‐economic” domains.

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International Journal of Social Economics, vol. 26 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0306-8293

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Article

John B. Davis

The affinities of Smith′s invisible hand notion and Hegel′s cunningof reason are examined through a study of all the key locations in whichthe invisible hand and cunning…

Abstract

The affinities of Smith′s invisible hand notion and Hegel′s cunning of reason are examined through a study of all the key locations in which the invisible hand and cunning of reason are introduced. Despite their differences in orientation and philosophy, both writers reach similar conclusions regarding the play of self‐interest and the emergence of the social good. Specifically, each requires a deus ex machina – Providence or Geist – to generate the necessary telosthat supplements their respective logical arguments concerning the concrete play of interest. At the same time, each view provides little to explain how individualism creates the greater social good, so that recourse in each argument to an extra‐social entity obscures the actual functioning of the social order. The common approaches of the two very different thinkers thus reflects on the general requirements and dilemmas of arguments concerning the social good and individual interest.

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International Journal of Social Economics, vol. 16 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0306-8293

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Article

Edmund D. Pellegrino and Richard A. Gray

A species of moral malaise afflicts the professions today, a malaise that may prove fatal to their moral identities and perilous to our whole society. It is manifest in a…

Abstract

A species of moral malaise afflicts the professions today, a malaise that may prove fatal to their moral identities and perilous to our whole society. It is manifest in a growing conviction even among conscientious doctors, lawyers, and ministers that it is no longer possible to practice their professions within traditional ethical constraints. More specifically, the belief is taking hold that unless professionals look out for their own self‐interest, they will be crushed by commercialization, competition, government regulation, malpractice actions, advertising, public and media hostility, and a host of other inimical socio‐economic forces. This line of reasoning leads the professional to infer that self‐interest justifies compromises in, and even rejection of, obligations that standards of professional ethics have traditionally imposed.

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Reference Services Review, vol. 22 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0090-7324

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Article

Michael Pickhardt

This paper is devoted to the question of what motivates man in his pursuit of economic activities. Particular attention is given to the notion that economic activities of…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper is devoted to the question of what motivates man in his pursuit of economic activities. Particular attention is given to the notion that economic activities of individuals may not be motivated by their self‐interest alone.

Design/methodology/approach

Using literary analysis, the paper first reconsiders the role of self‐interest and non‐selfish motives in the historical schools. Then it is demonstrated that at least some non‐selfish motives were incorporated in the voluntary exchange theory of public economy. Next it is shown that during the evolution of the theory of public goods these non‐selfish motives were lost and that the modern theory of public goods rests entirely on the self‐interest hypothesis. However, over the last two decades results of public goods experiments have cast considerable doubt on the pure self‐interest hypothesis.

Findings

A major finding of this paper is that several non‐selfish motives of man that show up in recent public goods experiments were already discussed by representatives of the historical schools.

Research limitations/implications

An agenda for future research on the topic is sketched in the final section.

Practical implications

Practical implications include that the allocation of many goods, not just public goods, may improve if agents pay more attention to non‐selfish motives of man.

Originality/value

The paper adds to the existing body of related writings by linking developments in the evolution of theory of public goods, in particular recent findings from public goods experiments, to a specific aspect already advocated by representatives of the historical schools, that is, the notion that man in his pursuit of economic activities is not motivated by his self‐interest alone. To this extent, the paper is of interest for researchers working on public goods theory, experimental economics and the history of economic thought.

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Journal of Economic Studies, vol. 32 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3585

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Book part

Linda Kamas and Anne Preston

This chapter investigates the relationship between heterogeneous social preferences and charitable giving under alternative prices of giving and types of subsidies. Using…

Abstract

This chapter investigates the relationship between heterogeneous social preferences and charitable giving under alternative prices of giving and types of subsidies. Using 10 allocation decisions, we categorize participants’ social preferences as self-interested, inequity averse, or social surplus maximizing. In subsequent charitable giving treatments, analysis of within-person decision-making gives support for several predictions consistent with social preference types: social surplus maximizers are most likely to give to a charity that increases production; inequity averters give more to charity than do other groups; all preference types give more when the price of giving declines; and social surplus maximizers are more responsive to the price of giving than are inequity averters.

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Charity with Choice
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84950-768-4

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Barbara Bigelow and Margarete Arndt

Economic assumptions of self-interest and opportunism have sparked a debate about their impact on management behavior. This paper addresses this debate in the context of…

Abstract

Economic assumptions of self-interest and opportunism have sparked a debate about their impact on management behavior. This paper addresses this debate in the context of US hospitals. More specifically, the paper addresses whether self-interest and opportunistic behavior describe pre-existing behavior in hospitals. Our analysis concludes that there is no evidence that opportunism was an underlying industry wide behavior prior to the 1980s when economic theories began to shape policies and the industry. While we cannot determine from the evidence why it emerged, it may be linked to system incentives to reduce costs and/or the propagation of economic theories in health administration programs and business schools. Consequently, there is a necessity for on-going debate and future empirical research on this topic.

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Strategic Thinking and Entrepreneurial Action in the Health Care Industry
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84950-427-0

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