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Individual Motivation, its Nature, Determinants and Consequences for Within Group Behavior

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Author Info

  • Alkire, Sabina

    (World Bank, Poverty Group)

  • Deneulin, Séverine

    (UNIVERSITE CATHOLIQUE DE LOUVAIN, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES); Oxford University, International Development Centre)

Abstract

The paper deals with evaluating the adequacy of the assumption that in economic transactions people are self-interested insofar as they are motivated solely by the concern of maximizing their own utility, and in particular with assessing how this assumption affects within-group behavior. Policy and incentive structures based on the assumption of exogenous and self-interested motivation can undermine other sources of motivation and have negative effects both on cooperative behavior and also on economic efficiency. The paper sketches the motivational assumption of homo œconomicus: in the classical formulation, in rational choice theory and in Becker’s later work which introduces personal and social capital into the individual utility function. It then challenges the position that homo œconomicus contains an adequate characterization of human motivation for cooperative within-group behavior. It introduces alternative motivational behaviors: philia and altruism, identity and self-expression, moral rules, intrinsic motivation and social norms. It argues that motivations are complex and multiple; a single assumption of utility maximization is insufficient for policy purposes. As the individual is always a social being, how she behaves will be dependent on the social context in which she is acting. If motivations are endogenous, and if under certain conditions maximizing motivation displaces other sources of motivation, then these indirect effects, and their long term consequences for efficiency and equity, should be taken into account in framing economic policies.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES) in its series Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) with number 1999033.

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Length: 23
Date of creation: 01 Jun 1998
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ctl:louvir:1999033

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Keywords: Motivation; Rational Choice; Self-Interest; Cooperation;

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  1. Assar Lindbeck & Sten Nyberg & Jšrgen W. Weibull, 1999. "Social Norms And Economic Incentives In The Welfare State," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 114(1), pages 1-35, February.
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  5. Bruce E. Kaufman, 1999. "Expanding the behavioral foundations of labor economics," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 52(3), pages 361-392, April.
  6. Joseph E. Stiglitz & Raaj Kumar Sah, 1983. "The Social Cost of Labor, and Project Evaluation: A General Approach," NBER Working Papers 1229, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1991. "The Invisible Hand and Modern Welfare Economics," NBER Working Papers 3641, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Amartya Sen, 1997. "Maximization and the Act of Choice," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 65(4), pages 745-780, July.
  9. Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1989. "Markets, Market Failures, and Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 79(2), pages 197-203, May.
  10. Frey, Bruno S & Oberholzer-Gee, Felix, 1997. "The Cost of Price Incentives: An Empirical Analysis of Motivation Crowding-Out," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 87(4), pages 746-55, September.
  11. Sen, Amartya, 1985. "Goals, Commitment, and Identity," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, Oxford University Press, vol. 1(2), pages 341-55, Fall.
  12. Bardhan, Pranab, 1989. "The new institutional economics and development theory: A brief critical assessment," World Development, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 17(9), pages 1389-1395, September.
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Cited by:
  1. Pillai N., Vijayamohanan, 2008. "Infrastructure, Growth And Human Development In Kerala," MPRA Paper 7017, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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