Header

UZH-Logo

Maintenance Infos

The limits to moral erosion in markets: social norms and the replacement excuse


Bartling, Björn; Özdemir, Yagiz (2017). The limits to moral erosion in markets: social norms and the replacement excuse. Working paper series / Department of Economics 263, University of Zurich.

Abstract

This paper studies the impact of a key feature of competitive markets on moral behavior: the possibility that a competitor will step in and conclude the deal if a conscientious market actor forgoes a profitable business opportunity for ethical reasons. We study experimentally whether people employ the argument "if I don’t do it, someone else will" to justify taking a narrowly self-interested action. Our data reveal a clear pattern. Subjects do not employ the "replacement excuse" if a social norm exists that classifies the selfish action as immoral. But if no social norm exists, subjects are more inclined to take a selfish action in situations where another subject can otherwise take it. By demonstrating the importance of social norms of moral behavior for limiting the power of the replacement excuse, our paper informs the long-standing debate on the effect of markets on morals.

Abstract

This paper studies the impact of a key feature of competitive markets on moral behavior: the possibility that a competitor will step in and conclude the deal if a conscientious market actor forgoes a profitable business opportunity for ethical reasons. We study experimentally whether people employ the argument "if I don’t do it, someone else will" to justify taking a narrowly self-interested action. Our data reveal a clear pattern. Subjects do not employ the "replacement excuse" if a social norm exists that classifies the selfish action as immoral. But if no social norm exists, subjects are more inclined to take a selfish action in situations where another subject can otherwise take it. By demonstrating the importance of social norms of moral behavior for limiting the power of the replacement excuse, our paper informs the long-standing debate on the effect of markets on morals.

Statistics

Downloads

3 downloads since deposited on 27 Sep 2017
3 downloads since 12 months
Detailed statistics

Additional indexing

Item Type:Working Paper
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Working Paper Series > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
JEL Classification:C92, D02, D63
Uncontrolled Keywords:Replacement excuse, social norms, moral behavior, competition, markets, utilitarianism, deontological ethics
Language:English
Date:September 2017
Deposited On:27 Sep 2017 14:41
Last Modified:27 Sep 2017 14:51
Series Name:Working paper series / Department of Economics
Number of Pages:27
ISSN:1664-7041
Official URL:http://www.econ.uzh.ch/static/wp/econwp263.pdf
Related URLs:http://www.econ.uzh.ch/static/workingpapers.php

Download

Download PDF  'The limits to moral erosion in markets: social norms and the replacement excuse'.
Preview
Content: Published Version
Filetype: PDF
Size: 335kB