The Role Of Self-Interest In Economics

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Introduction This report critically analyses the paper by Wang et al. (2011) with respect to the main ideology presented in the paper, the research methodology used, the data collection methodology used, the research strategy employed and briefly covers the strengths and limitations of this paper. The report further includes other literature within this topic which have tried to tackle the same research question but with a different strategy. The paper by Wang et al. (2011) asks a subjective psychological question in their paper which has been addressed in previous literature several times. The question fundamentally is whether people or professionals who study economics as part of their academics tend to favour greediness more than others…show more content…
(2011) is to evaluate the potential link between economics education and the nefarious business decisions including bankruptcies on the expense of shareholders and employees, Ponzi schemes and other such acts which can be categorised as greed. Wang et al. (2011) argues that self-interest is the fundamental assumption of rational choice models in Economics and this self-interest can be subjectively seen as greed. The father of economics; Adam Smith himself advocated and introduced the concept of self-interest as the dominant theme in his classical theories. However, what amount of self-interest can be classified as greed remains an ambiguous question and forms the main criticism to Wang et al. (2011). Supporting this view is Cameron (2003) who states that economic literature strongly appreciates self-interest and discussion on greed is far less. Some authors (Werhane, 1991) even agree that Adam Smith would view greed as antithetical to a well-run economic system. However the motivation to study the topic of greed in economists and economics education is evident and this topic has been widely written upon. The topic can have widespread impact on curriculum of economics education and possible debate on what to include in the current economics curriculum such that it does not promote greed but propagates equality and…show more content…
(2011) fundamentally evaluates a behavioural question – the question can be looked as open-ended and philosophical and thus evaluating such questions through research methods is not a trivial task. Ontologically, the question itself is based on assumptions – the economists or people who study economics view self-interest as a necessary assumption behind any behaviour. Distinguishing self-interest from greed is notoriously difficult and Wang et al. (2011) have had to rely on assumptions of a cut-off threshold after which the self-interest becomes greed. Epistemologically the authors have devised an experiment using Dictator Game which theoretically has been able to distinguish between self-interest and greed. However, the thin line between greed and self-interest can never be fully evaluated and the authors are broken between whether how the economics students behave is merely out of self-interest or greed. If self-interest is taken as a subjective measure, then the methodology adapted can be viewed as practical and conclusive. Reliance on Dictator Game (the game has been explained in detail in the next section) as an epistemological tool to evaluate greed can be viewed as far-fetched and over-conclusive. The most important reason this report criticises the dictator game as a problematic tool to measure greed is the familiarity of economics students with this game. Economics students are often taught basic games like Dictator Game and Ultimatum Game as part of
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