20 Nov 2013

Economic vs. social incentives

I've got a great group of people reading drafts of End of Abundance 2.0, but some of them are having a hard time getting their comments back to me in a timely manner. After I sent a reminder, I got this reply:
You're an economist.... Can't you come up with a better system [of getting us to deliver]?
In response, I said:
Ahhh, but you've put your finger on the problem -- water, like many issues, needs to be managed with a combination of economic and social incentives. It's not like you guys would be doing this -- or doing it as well -- if I was trying to pay or punish you financially. I'm counting on you to do this because it's your passion. (Even if deadlines aren't :)
For more on these interactions, consider reading my paper on how business incentives can interact harmfully with bureaucratic structures or this recent essay: "Market Reasoning as Moral Reasoning: Why Economists Should Re-engage with Political Philosophy" [free download]