nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2007‒01‒23
thirteen papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Universita degli Studi di Roma, La Sapienza

  1. Collective Trust Behavior By Holm, Håkan; Nystedt, Paul
  2. Altruism and Selfish Behavior. The Docility Model Revisited By Secchi Davide
  3. Local Networks to Compete in the Global Era. The Italian SMEs Experience By Antonia R. Gurrieri; Luca Petruzzellis
  4. Birds of a Feather - Better Together? Exploring the Optimal Spatial Distribution of Ethnic Inventors By Ajay Agrawal; Devesh Kapur; John McHale
  5. Strategic Referring in Labor Market Social Networks By Natálie Reichlová; Petr Švarc
  6. Sustainable Development Policies in Europe By Pietro Caratti; Gabriella Lo Cascio
  7. Caste Discrimination and Transaction Costs in the Labor Market: Evidence from Rural North India By Takahiro Ito
  8. Takeovers and Cooperatives By Frank Milne; David Kelsey
  9. Endogenous Network Formation In the Laboratory By Celen, Bogachan; Hyndman, Kyle
  10. Does Stake Size matter for Cooperation and Punishment? By Martin G. Kocher; Peter Martinsson; Martine Visser
  11. Docility and “through doing” morality: An alternative approach to ethics By Magnani Lorenzo; Bardone Emanuele; Secchi Davide
  12. Diffusion of a Social Norm: Tracing the Emergence of the Housewife in the Netherlands, 1812-1922 By Frans W.A. van Poppel; Hendrik P. van Dalen; Evelien Walhout
  13. Attitudes of the Youth towards Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship: A Cross-cultural Comparison of India and China By Goel Abhishek; Vohra Neharika; Zhang Liyan; Arora Bhupinder

  1. By: Holm, Håkan (Department of Economics, Lund University); Nystedt, Paul (Department of Economics and Management, Linköping University)
    Abstract: This paper investigates trust in situations, where decision-makers are large groups and the decision-mechanism is collective, by developing a game to study trust behavior. Theories from behavioral economics and psychology suggest that trust in such situations may differ from individual trust. Experimental results here reveal a large difference in trust but not in trustworthiness between the individual and collective setting. Furthermore, an artefactual field experiment captures the determinants of collective trust behavior among two cohorts in the Swedish population. One result is that beliefs about the other and the own group are strongly associated with collective trustworthiness and trust behavior.
    Keywords: Collective Trust; Voting; Experiment; Beliefs
    JEL: C72 C90 C93 D70
    Date: 2006–12–20
  2. By: Secchi Davide (Department of Economics, University of Insubria, Italy)
    Abstract: Herbert A. Simon is widely known for his studies on rationality, artificial intelligence and for his pioneering approach to organizational studies. In one of his latest works, he presented a theory of human interaction, focused on the conflict between the selfish and the altruistic that can be seen as the essence of human relationships. The model is quite ambiguous: (1) it follows a kind of social Darwinism that (2) postulates selfish individuals’ extinction. Taking up Simon’s hypotheses on altruism, docility, and selfish behavior, we develop an alternative model of human interaction. The main objective of the paper is to show that rejecting neo-Darwinism and assuming slight complications in the model can explain more in terms of social system interactions. We assume that docility and then altruism, in a technical sense, is the basis of social interaction as it shapes the whole system. It is worth noting that, in the model, selfish individuals do not disappear.
    Keywords: docility, altruism, social system, bounded rationality, social interactions, social Darwinism
    Date: 2005–09
  3. By: Antonia R. Gurrieri (University of Bari); Luca Petruzzellis (University of Bari)
    Abstract: This study is concerned with the factors that influence the cooperation among cluster-based firms. Theorists have consistently demonstrated the role and importance of economic externalities, such as knowledge spillovers, within industrial clusters. Less attention has been paid to the investigation of social based externalities, though it has been suggested that these may also accrue from geographical agglomeration. This study explores the development of cooperation between firms operating in a single industry sector and in close proximity. The results suggest that social networking has a greater influence than geographic proximity in facilitating inter-firm co-operation. A semi-structured questionnaire has been developed and the answers were analysed with a stepwise regression model.
    Keywords: Networks, Inter-Firm Cooperation, SMEs
    Date: 2006–11
  4. By: Ajay Agrawal; Devesh Kapur; John McHale
    Abstract: We examine how the spatial and social proximity of inventors affects knowledge flows, focusing especially on how the two forms of proximity interact. We develop a knowledge flow production function (KFPF) as a flexible tool for modeling access to knowledge and show that the optimal spatial concentration of socially proximate inventors in a city or nation depends on whether spatial and social proximity are complements or substitutes in facilitating knowledge flows. We employ patent citation data, using same-MSA and co-ethnicity as proxies for spatial and social proximity, respectively, to estimate the key KFPF parameters. Although co-location and co-ethnicity both predict knowledge flows, the marginal benefit of co-location is significantly less for co-ethnic inventors. These results imply that dispersion of socially proximate individuals is optimal from the perspectives of the city and the economy. In contrast, for socially proximate individuals themselves, spatial concentration is preferred - and the only stable equilibrium.
    JEL: O33 R12 Z13
    Date: 2007–01
  5. By: Natálie Reichlová (Institute of Economic Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic); Petr Švarc (Institute of Economic Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic)
    Abstract: We present a model of job search in which information about job opportunities is available either through direct search at the labor market or through network of socially tied individuals. We consider two cases - altruistic and self-interested agents that maximize their utility function. We show that optimal strategies range between full and no referring cases. Altruistic individuals tend to refer more than selfinterested agents. Strategic referring allows agents alleviate employment variation and leads to higher average utility levels and lower unemployment rates.
    Keywords: agent-based modeling; networks; strategy; job referring
    JEL: J62 J64 D82 D83
    Date: 2006–12
  6. By: Pietro Caratti (Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei); Gabriella Lo Cascio (Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei)
    Abstract: The objective of this paper is to investigate the actual situation in the shift towards the implementation of Sustainable Development Policies in Europe. The aim is to highlight the key role of the European Union in bringing about sustainable development within Europe and also on the wider global stage. It will show how the European Commission performs its commitment in reaching a sustainable regulation by issuing some documents and declarations. The paper frames the EU action into an international framework of strategies, agreements and policies on SD and, at the same time, provides an overview on experiences of SD strategy implementations at the national level, according to the commission pressing on MS to produce their own SD strategy and implement it. Indicators systems, issues of interest and fields of actions are compared: the analysis of these elements aims to highlight common scenarios of SD strategies that reveal the trends towards a more sustainable growth in the European Union.
    Keywords: Sustainable Development, Globalization, Environment Policy, Strategy for Sustainable Development, Good Governance, Participation
    JEL: Q01 Q5 Q56
    Date: 2006–12
  7. By: Takahiro Ito
    Abstract: This paper is an empirical attempt to quantify caste-based discrimination in the labor market using household data taken from rural North India. In the regression analysis, transaction costs associated with entry into the labor market and reservation wages are estimated along with market wages. The estimation results provide evidence of the existence of transaction costs in the labor market and discrimination against backward classes with regard to access to regular employment. In line with previous studies, the results suggest that the achievements of India's reservation policy so far have at best been limited. In addition, a comparison between the estimates from the model employed in this paper and conventional (reduced-form) approaches shows that discrimination in labor market entry is likely to be underestimated in the conventional reduced-form approaches.
    Keywords: regular employment, casual employment, labor market, India
    JEL: D23 J22 J24 J71
    Date: 2007–01
  8. By: Frank Milne (Queen's University); David Kelsey (University of Exeter)
    Abstract: If consumers wholly or partially control a firm with market power they will charge less than the profit maximising price. Starting at the usual monopoly price, a small price reduction will have a second order e¤ect on profits but a first order effect on consumer surplus. Despite this desirable static result, it has been argued that cooperatives are vulnerable to take-over by outsiders who will run them as for-profit businesses. This paper studies takeovers of cooperatives. We argue that cooperatives are in fact quite stable due to the Grossman-Hart problem of free riding during takeovers.
    Keywords: corporate governance, co-operative, take-over, free-rider
    JEL: D70 L20
    Date: 2006–08
  9. By: Celen, Bogachan; Hyndman, Kyle
    Abstract: This paper provides an experimental test of a theory of endogenous network formation. A group of subjects face a decision problem under uncertainty. The subjects are endowed with a private information about the fundamentals of the problem, and they are supposed to make a decision one after the other. The key feature of the experiment is that a subject can observe the decisions of the preceding subjects by forming links. A link is costly, yet it enables a subject to observe previous decisions of those to whom he is linked. We show that subjects respond to changes in the information structure and the cost of link formation in the expected manner. However, we also show that behavior systematically deviates from the Bayesian benchmark as subjects form more links than theory predicts. Subjects also exhibit a tendency to conform rather than follow their own information. In order to explain this pattern, we provide an econometric model that posits that subjects care about their relative standing in the group. We show that the modified model provides a better fit than a standard QRE.
    Keywords: Social learning; social interaction; networks; network formation
    JEL: C91 C92 C73 A14 D8
    Date: 2006–12–15
  10. By: Martin G. Kocher (CREED, Universiteit van Amsterdam); Peter Martinsson (Göteborg University, Sweden); Martine Visser (Göteborg University, Sweden)
    Abstract: The effects of stake size on cooperation and punishment are investigated using a public goods experiment. We find that an increase in stake size does neither significantly affect cooperation nor, interestingly, the level of punishment.
    Keywords: C72; C91; H41
    Date: 2006–11–22
  11. By: Magnani Lorenzo (Department of Philosophy, Computational Philosophy Laboratory, University of Pavia, Italy); Bardone Emanuele (Department of Philosophy, Computational Philosophy Laboratory, University of Pavia, Italy); Secchi Davide (Department of Economics, University of Insubria, Italy)
    Abstract: In this paper, we aim at presenting the distributed morality approach as it can be described by the docility model of social interactions. The proposition “morality is a matter of social interaction” constitutes our starting point. We aim at pointing out the ways through which individuals create moral alternatives to a given situation. The paper is dedicated to presenting morality as something connected to human cognition. We introduce a “manipulative” way of thinking about morality, and we argue that it is “distributed” through things, animals, computers, and other human beings (section I); furthermore, the idea of a type of “through doing” morality comes up. Then, we find that this model supports an alternative view of the socio-economic system and, therefore, we suggest that the docility model (section II, as amended from Simon’s original model 1990; 1993), fits the case. The field of business ethics exempts useful insights from research on this issue. Recent studies on moral thinking and moral imagination seem to support this research project.
    Keywords: cognition, distributed morality, docility, social interactions, socioeconomic system
    Date: 2006–07
  12. By: Frans W.A. van Poppel (Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute); Hendrik P. van Dalen (Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam); Evelien Walhout (International Institute for Social History)
    Abstract: The emergence of the housewife in the Netherlands over the period 1812-1922 was strongly influenced by the social norm that women should withdraw from the labour market on the eve of marriage. Adherence to this norm is most clearly reflected in the emergence of the housewife among the lower classes, especially at the close of the nineteenth century among wives of farmers. Women in urban municipalities, however, set the norm far earlier and differences across social classes were significantly larger in towns than in rural areas. Paradoxically, the rise of the housewife did not change work pressures for lower–class women. This paradox is resolved by noting that they substituted registered work for unregistered work, e.g., in house industries, working in the family firm or farm.
    Keywords: marriage; norms; division of labour; housewife; breadwinner
    JEL: D13 J12 J16 N34
    Date: 2006–12–04
  13. By: Goel Abhishek; Vohra Neharika; Zhang Liyan; Arora Bhupinder
    Abstract: This study argues that social support is an important enabler in entrepreneurial activity in a country or a region. One untested assumption in policy making on entrepreneurship development has been that all regions are equally desirous of entrepreneurial activity and one policy could address issues in all regions. It was argued that societal attitudes towards entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship are important determinants for future entrepreneurial activity. These attitudes would be impacted by the family background of an individual and entrepreneurial development in the region an individual comes from. It was hypothesized that more positive attitude would be seen in (i) people form entrepreneurial backgrounds, and (ii) entrepreneurially more developed regions. These hypotheses were tested on more than 5,000 respondents in India and China. The results for family background’s influence on attitudes found strong support in both India and China. Regional development showed stronger influence on attitude in India than in China. The findings and implications for studying attitudes and policy making are discussed.
    Keywords: Attitudes, Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship, Cross-cultural, India, China
    Date: 2007–01–15

This nep-soc issue is ©2007 by Fabio Sabatini. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.