nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2008‒01‒05
three papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Active decisions and pro-social behavior By Alois Stutzer; Lorenz Goette; Michael Zehnder
  2. From Group Selection to Organizational Interactors By Geoffrey M. Hodgson; Thorbjørn Knudsen
  3. Cooperation, reciprocity and self-esteem: A theoretical approach By Marcello Basili; Maurizio Franzini

  1. By: Alois Stutzer; Lorenz Goette; Michael Zehnder
    Abstract: In this paper, we propose a decision framework where people are individually asked to either actively consent to or dissent from some pro-social behavior. We hypothesize that confronting individuals with the choice of whether to engage in a specific pro-social behavior contributes to the formation of issue-specific altruistic preferences, while simultaneously involving a commitment. The hypothesis is tested in a large-scale field experiment on blood donations. We find that this “active-decision” intervention substantially increases the actual donation behavior of people who had not fully formed preferences beforehand.
    Keywords: Human behavior ; Altruism
    Date: 2007
  2. By: Geoffrey M. Hodgson; Thorbjørn Knudsen
    Abstract: This paper builds on previous work within the conceptual framework of a generalized Darwinism that clarifies such concepts as selection and replication. One of its aims is to refine the concept of the interactor. An overview of the conditions under which group selection may occur helps us identify factors such as structural coherence that are useful in defining the interactor. This in turn leads to the question of selection on multiple levels. An additional level of replication emerges when we consider routines within organizations and the social positions related to them. The analysis here establishes that social organizations including business firms are often interactors. Such organizations are more than simply groups because of the existence of routines and social positions. Accordingly, to understand firms and other organizations, we need more that a “dual inheritance” theory; we have to consider the replication of social positions and routines as well.
    Keywords: group selection, interactors, organizations, firms, cultural evolution Length 30 pages
    Date: 2007–12
  3. By: Marcello Basili; Maurizio Franzini
    Abstract: Cooperation occurs even where it is not predicted by economic theory, owing to what is widely recognized as too narrow a conception of self-interest. In particular, relying on plenty of experimental evidence, it has been maintained that agents adopt such a strong reciprocity rules in their behavior as make it worthwhile to punish those who defect or do not act fairly, costly though as this may be. We propose to lay the analytical foundation of such behavior – and more generally to cooperation-proneness – by considering self-esteem. Agents may include self-esteem in their utility (or goal) function and actually produce or destroy self-esteem through their behavior. This amounts to introducing a moral system in individual behavior in such a way as to make it amenable to rational maximization. We also show how the impact of self-esteem on the best contract in Principal-Agents situations and how such impact differs in Moral Hazard and Adverse Selection situations.
    Keywords: self-esteem, reciprocity, motivation, incentive, agency.
    JEL: J41 D64
    Date: 2007–11

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