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What's important for you in life? A general and pluralistic model of economic agents’ motivation

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  • Zibell, Laurent

Abstract

This article refines the theory of economic agents’ motivations beyond the alternative between egoistic self-interest and a generic altruism. It addresses the potential weakness of ‘altruism’ theories that the number of ‘others’ claiming empathy and care is potentially infinite. It contends that economic agents are motivated by a strive to contribute to a superior ‘common good’ and to reach positions of higher ‘worth’ in one of eight (and only eight) ‘polities’: four collective polities (tradition, liberty, visionary, communitarian) and four individual ones (moral, innovative and creative, management and military, science and academia), whose existence is justified by the concordance of independent works in economic sociology, analytical psychology and historical anthropology. The predictive capacity of the model is exposed.

Suggested Citation

  • Zibell, Laurent, 2011. "What's important for you in life? A general and pluralistic model of economic agents’ motivation," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(5), pages 503-515.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:soceco:v:40:y:2011:i:5:p:503-515
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socec.2010.12.015
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Simon, Herbert A, 1993. "Altruism and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 156-161, May.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Motivation; Economic agent; Altruism; Behaviour; Self-interest; Polity;

    JEL classification:

    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • L21 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Business Objectives of the Firm
    • M14 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - Corporate Culture; Diversity; Social Responsibility
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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