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Social Evolution, Corporate Culture, and Exploitation

  • Schlicht, Ekkehart

    ()

    (University of Munich)

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.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 651.

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Length: 21 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp651
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  1. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics And Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753, August.
  2. Daron Acemoglu, 2000. "Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 7800, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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. 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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