Economic rationality and the optimization trap

St. Gallen Business Review 2015 (1):12-17 (2015)
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Abstract

The theme of this issue of the St. Gallen Business Review is "Harmony". For this reason, we would like to discuss whether two aspects of our life- world are in harmony, namely economic optimization and morality. What is the relation between them? According to a widely shared view, which is one aspect of the doctrine of "mainstream economics", the functioning of an economic system does not require moral behaviour on the part of the individual economic agent. In what follows, we will try to convince you that this is false. If all economic agents – managers, employees, bankers, consumers and so on – were purely self-interested, as mainstream economics assumes, our economic practice would fail. There are various reasons for this. Here we will focus on one of them, namely the pivotal role of interpersonal communication.

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Nikil S. Mukerji
Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München

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