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Social Evolution, Corporate Culture, and Exploitation

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  • Schlicht, Ekkehart

    () (University of Munich)

Abstract

It has been claimed that the market fosters selfishness and thereby undermines the moral basis of society. This thesis has been developed with an emphasis on market exchange. Everyday life is, however, predominantly shaped by interactions in the workplace rather than by shopping behaviour. This essay places emphasis on firm organisation, rather than market interaction, in moulding cultural traits. The argument starts with the observation that workers may perceive the employment relationship in two different ways, with different behavioural consequences. The first is the conventional incentive view. The other is the social exchange view. Implementing the social exchange perspective may be profitable for firms which organize complex tasks. This requires an appropriate corporate culture, governed by reciprocity, fairness and commitment. Such a culture can be viewed as a refined form of exploitation, however, as it involves creating an atmosphere of mutuality for profit. I shall argue against this thesis that the same attribution mechanisms which render corporate culture an effective management instrument shape the self-perception of management and engender true, rather than faked, social exchange. The market shapes firm organizations which foster mutualism rather than selfishness.

Suggested Citation

  • Schlicht, Ekkehart, 2002. "Social Evolution, Corporate Culture, and Exploitation," IZA Discussion Papers 651, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp651
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bergstrom, Theodore C & Stark, Oded, 1993. "How Altruism Can Prevail in an Evolutionary Environment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 149-155, May.
    2. Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(1), pages 7-72, March.
    3. Samuel Bowles, 1998. "Endogenous Preferences: The Cultural Consequences of Markets and Other Economic Institutions," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 75-111, March.
    4. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics and Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753.
    5. Herbert Gintis & Samuel Bowles & Melissa Osborne, 2001. "Incentive-Enhancing Preferences: Personality, Behavior, and Earnings," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 155-158, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Paul T. de Beer & Robert H.J. Mosch, 2007. "The waning and restoration of social norms: a formal model of the dynamics of norm compliance and norm violation," DNB Working Papers 131, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
    2. Lewis, John, 2009. "Hitting and hoping?: Meeting the exchange rate and inflation criteria during a period of nominal convergence," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 25(4), pages 508-524, December.
    3. Schlicht, Ekkehart, 2004. "Marshall on Custom and Competition," Discussion Papers in Economics 369, University of Munich, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    corporate culture; theory of the firm; organizational citizenship; reciprocity;

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • A14 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Sociology of Economics
    • B52 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary
    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation
    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure

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