nep-hpe New Economics Papers
on History and Philosophy of Economics
Issue of 2009‒03‒28
ten papers chosen by
Erik Thomson
University of Manitoba

  1. Economics: The “Just Right” Liberal-Arts Major?” By David Colander
  2. The common good of the company and the theory of organization By Argandoña, Antonio
  3. Was Weber Wrong? A Human Capital Theory of Protestant Economic History: A Comment on Becker and Woessmann By Christoph A. Schaltegger; Benno Torgler
  4. Putting the "New" into New Trade Theory: Paul Krugman's Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics By Neary, J Peter
  5. Measuring Trust : Experiments and Surveys in Contrast and Combination By Michael Naef; Jürgen Schupp
  6. Sebastiano Brusco and the Italian School of Local Development By Margherita Russo; Anna Natali
  7. Social Preferences under Risk - An Experimental Analysis By Christiane Bradler
  8. Can intentions spoil the kindness of a gift? - An experimental study By Strassmair, Christina
  9. The fetters of the sib: Weber meets Darwin By Ingela Alger; Jörgen Weibull
  10. Generosity, Greed and Gambling: What difference does asymmetric information in bargaining make? By Charlotte Klempt; Kerstin Pull

  1. By: David Colander
    Date: 2009–03
  2. By: Argandoña, Antonio (IESE Business School)
    Abstract: The concept of common good occupies a prominent place in political and social philosophy, yet it has had little impact on the theory of the firm. This is despite some recent attempts to resituate the theory of the firm on broader and therefore more fruitful anthropological and social foundations than those of traditional economic theory. The present study connects with other discussions of organization theory based on the ideas of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas and is an attempt to explain how the concept of common good may be used to broaden the foundations of organization theory.
    Keywords: Catholic social teaching; Common good; Company; Goods; Organization; Organization theory;
    Date: 2009–01–03
  3. By: Christoph A. Schaltegger; Benno Torgler
    Abstract: This comment makes a contribution to Becker and Woessmann’s paper on a human capital theory of Protestant economic history eventually challenging the famous thesis by Max Weber who attributed economic success to a specific Protestant work ethic (Quarterly Journal of Economics 124 (2) (2009) forthcoming). The authors argue for a human capital approach: higher literacy among Protestants of the 19th century (and not a Protestant work ethic) contributed to higher economic prosperity at that point in history. However, the paper leaves the question open as to whether a Protestant specific work ethic existed or exists at all. Are there observable denomination-based differences in work ethic or is Protestantism only a veil hiding the underlying role of education? We use recent data to explore the role of Protestantism on work ethic. The results indicate that today’s work ethic in fact is influenced by denomination-based religiosity and also education.
    Keywords: Religion; Work Ethic; Protestantism; Education
    JEL: Z12 I20 J24
    Date: 2009–03
  4. By: Neary, J Peter
    Abstract: This paper reviews the scientific contributions of Paul Krugman to the study of international trade, on the occasion of his receipt of the 2008 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics. A simplified exposition is presented of some of his principal findings, including: the effects of trade on firm scale and product diversity in a general model of monopolistic competition; the integration of monopolistic competition with factor endowments theory; the implications of transport costs, including home-market effects and the possibility of agglomeration in models of economic geography; and the positive and normative consequences of oligopolistic trade.
    Keywords: economic geography; imperfect competition; intra-industry trade; monopolistic competition; oligopoly and trade; product differentiation
    JEL: F12
    Date: 2009–03
  5. By: Michael Naef; Jürgen Schupp
    Abstract: Trust is a concept that has attracted - significant attention in economic theory and research within the last two decades: it has been applied in a number of contexts and has been investigated both as an explanatory and as a dependent variable. In this paper, we explore the questions of what exactly is measured by the diverse survey-derived scales and experiments claiming to measure trust, and how these different measures are related. Using nationally representative data, we test a commonly used experimental measure of trust for robustness to a number of interferences, finding it to be mostly unsusceptible to stake size, the extent of strategy space, the use of the strategy method, and the characteristics of the experimenters. Inspired by criticism of the widespread trust question used in many surveys, we created a new, improved survey trust scale consisting of three short statements. We show that the dimension of this scale is distinct from trust in institutions and trust in known others. Our new scale is a valid and reliable measure of trust in strangers. The scale is valid in the sense that it correlates with trusting behaviour in the experiment. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the test-retest reliability of six weeks is high. The experimental measure of trust is, on the other hand, not significantly correlated with trust in institutions nor with trust in known others. We therefore conclude that the experimental measure of trust refers not to trust in a general sense, but specifically to trust in strangers.
    Keywords: Trust, experiment, survey, representativity, SOEP
    JEL: C91 D63 Z13
    Date: 2009
  6. By: Margherita Russo; Anna Natali
    Abstract: The essay, presented as opening lecture at the first edition of the Summer School of Local Development “Sebastiano Brusco” (Seneghe, July 2006), outlines the original contribution of Sebastiano Brusco on two related issues: theory and tools for analyzing the industrial structure and for designing development policy. Her we enlighten some distinctive elements apparently running through all Brusco’s work, from the youth years in Sardinia, spent in cultural and political activities alongside Antonio Pigliaru, till the more mature studies on industrial districts. In Brusco’s thought, a central role is played by knowledge, competence, information, education and training: as far as small firms productive systems, industrial districts, and also less developed areas are concerned. An innovative approach to policy design and intervention stems from this view, stressing mechanisms able to diffusely affect capacity, learning and perception of opportunities.
    Keywords: development policy; regional policy
    JEL: R11
    Date: 2008–12
  7. By: Christiane Bradler (Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena)
    Abstract: The literature on social preferences provides overwhelming evidence of departures from pure self-interest of individuals. Experiments show that people care about others' well-being and their relative standing. This paper investigates whether this type of behavior persists when risk comes into play. I devise an experiment which sheds light on the interrelation of risk and social preferences by measuring (1) individual risk preferences, (2) interpersonal risk preferences, and (3) social preferences under certainty. The results reveal that a large share of subjects choose to accept more risk or less potential gain than individually preferred in order to increase another subject’s payoff. Further, the willingness to do so appears to be influenced by the "need" of the other person and her potential relative standing. Surprisingly, the results do not suggest that a subject’s social behavior under risk is related to his exhibited social concerns exhibited under certainty.
    Keywords: social preferences, risk, other-regarding behavior, inequality aversion
    JEL: D81 D63 C91
    Date: 2009–03–23
  8. By: Strassmair, Christina
    Abstract: Consider a situation where person A undertakes a costly action that benefits person B. This behavior seems altruistic. However, if A expects a reward in return from B, then A's action may be motivated by the expected rewards rather than by pure altruism. The question we address in this experimental study is how B reacts to the intentions of A. We vary the probability, with which the second mover in a trust game can reciprocate, and analyze effects on second mover behavior. Our results suggest that the perceived kindness and its rewards are not spoiled by expected rewards.
    Keywords: social preferences; intentions; beliefs; psychological game theory; experiment
    JEL: D02 C91 D64
    Date: 2009–03–20
  9. By: Ingela Alger (Carleton University - Department of Economics); Jörgen Weibull (SSE - Department of Economics - Stockholm School of Economics, Department of Economics, Ecole Polytechnique - CNRS : UMR7176 - Polytechnique - X)
    Abstract: We analyze how family ties affect incentives, with focus on the strategic interaction between a pair of mutually altruistic siblings. Each sibling exerts effort to produce output under uncertainty and the siblings may transfer output to each other. With equally altruistic siblings, their equilibrium effort is nonmonotonic in the common degree of altruism and depends on the harshness of the environment. We define a notion of local evolutionary robustness of degrees of sibling altruism, and show that this degree is less than one half, the kinship relatedness factor. By way of numerical simulations we show that family ties are weaker in harsher environments.
    Keywords: altruism, family ties, Hamilton's rule, free-riding, evolutionary robustness
    Date: 2008–09
  10. By: Charlotte Klempt (Max Planck Institute of Economics, Jena); Kerstin Pull (University of Tübingen, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration)
    Abstract: We analyze the effects of asymmetric information concerning the size of a pie on proposer behavior in three different bargaining situations: the ultimatum game, the Yes-No-game and the dictator game. Our data show that (a) irrespective of the information condition, proposer generosity increases with responder veto power, (b) informed proposers in the ultimatum game try to exploit their superior information and hide their greed by a seemingly fair offer, and (c) uninformed proposers in the dictator game exhibit gambling behavior by asking for more than potentially is at stake. While the results of our experimental analysis are interesting as such, they may also yield interesting practical implications.
    Keywords: Bargaining, Information, Experimental Games
    JEL: C72 C91
    Date: 2009–03–23

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