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The Constitution of the Not-For-Profit Organisation: Reciprocal Conformity to Morality

Listed author(s):
  • Gianluca Grimalda


  • Lorenzo Sacconi

We investigate the link between individual motivations and economic organisations by focusing on the case of non-profit firms. First, we provide a model of individual behaviour that allows for agents to have motivations different from self-interest. We assume that individuals desire to comply with the prescriptions of a universally recognised moral principle conditionally on the expectation of similar compliance by other agents. This principle will shape the constitution of the non-profit organisation. Second, we study a simple ‘production game’ where a ‘for-profit’ and a ‘non-profit’ equilibria both exist. In the former, self-interested considerations prevail, so that agents implement the free-market standard; conversely, in the latter, conformist preferences are dominant, so that players act in such a way that the moral principle is fulfilled. The non-profit organisation is characterised in terms of a ‘social contract’ between the founders of the firm and its stakeholders. We also point out that the structure of the ‘psychological game’ underlying the interaction is akin to a co-ordination problem, so that the possibility of co-ordination failures underscores the risk of ‘distorting’ individual dispositions in the shift from the ‘micro’ level of the individuals to the ‘macro’ level of the organisation as a whole. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

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Article provided by Springer in its journal Constitutional Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 16 (2005)
Issue (Month): 3 (September)
Pages: 249-276

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Handle: RePEc:kap:copoec:v:16:y:2005:i:3:p:249-276
DOI: 10.1007/s10602-005-2833-2
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  1. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 1999. "Social preferences: Some simple tests and a new model," Economics Working Papers 441, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Jan 2000.
  2. Lorenzo Sacconi, 2002. "The efficiency of the non-profit enterprise: constitutional ideology, conformist preferences and reputation," LIUC Papers in Ethics, Law and Economics 110, Cattaneo University (LIUC).
  3. Lorenzo Sacconi, 2001. "Incomplete contracts and corporate ethics: a game theoretical model under fuzzy information," LIUC Papers in Ethics, Law and Economics 91, Cattaneo University (LIUC).
  4. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, "undated". "Theories of Fairness and Reciprocity - Evidence and Economic Applications," IEW - Working Papers 075, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
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