What drives organizational performance?

  We have a pretty good idea of the characteristics that support very high individual performance in a variety of fields, from jazz to track to physics to business. An earlier post discussed some of the different combinations of features that characterize leaders in several different professions (link). And it isn’t difficult to sketch out …

Social justice and democratic stability

  One thing I find interesting about the sustained demonstrations and protests in Madison, Wisconsin is the fact that people on the streets do not seem to be chiefly motivated by personal material interests. Rather, the passion and the sustainability of the protests against Governor Walker's plans seem to derive from an outrage felt by …

The moral sentiments

One of Adam Smith's contributions to the study of philosophical ethics is his book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments. It is an interesting work, one part descriptive moral psychology, one part theory of the emotions.  Here is the opening paragraph (link): How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his …

Assurance game

How does a group of people succeed in coming together to contribute to a collective project over an extended period of time?  For example, what leads a group of unemployed workers to travel to the capital to lobby for an extension of unemployment benefits, or a group of expatriate Burmese people in London to attend …

"Moral economy" as a historical social concept

The concept of a "moral economy" has proved useful in attempting to describe and explain the contentious behavior of peasants in response to onerous social relations. Essentially, it is the idea that peasant communities share a set of normative attitudes concerning the social relations and social behaviors that surround the local economy: the availability of …

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