Individual Motivation, its Nature, Determinants and Consequences for Within Group Behavior
AbstractThe 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 InfoPaper 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.
Date of creation: 01 Jun 1998
Date of revision:
Motivation; Rational Choice; Self-Interest; Cooperation;
Other versions of this item:
- Alkire, S. & Deneulin, S., 2000. "Individual Motivation, Its Nature, Determinants and Consequences for within Group Behaviour," Research Paper 184, World Institute for Development Economics Research.
- C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
- C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2002-02-10 (All new papers)
- NEP-EVO-2002-02-10 (Evolutionary Economics)
- NEP-LAB-2002-02-10 (Labour Economics)
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