Some remarks on self-interest, the historical schools and the evolution of the theory of public goods
AbstractPurpose – 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.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by Emerald Group Publishing in its journal Journal of Economic Studies.
Volume (Year): 32 (2005)
Issue (Month): 3 (September)
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://www.emeraldinsight.com
Postal: Emerald Group Publishing, Howard House, Wagon Lane, Bingley, BD16 1WA, UK
You can help add them by filling out this form.
CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
- Kevin Morrell & Ian Clark, 2010. "Private Equity and the Public Good," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 96(2), pages 249-263, October.
- Anil Markandya & Dirk T.G. Rübbelke, 2012.
"Impure public technologies and environmental policy,"
Journal of Economic Studies,
Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 39(2), pages 128-143, May.
- Dirk T.G. Rübbelke & Anil Markandya, 2008. "Impure Public Technologies and Environmental Policy," Working Papers 2008.76, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
- Cécile Bazart & Michael Pickhardt, 2009. "Fighting Income Tax Evasion with Positive Rewards: Experimental Evidence," Working Papers 09-01, LAMETA, Universtiy of Montpellier, revised Jun 2009.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jade Turvey).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.