On the Economic Approach to Institutional Organization
New Horizons in Management series
Human Nature and Organization Theory examines accusations that organizational economics promotes an empirically incorrect and morally questionable image of human nature. The book is grounded in a pluralistic understanding of scientific research. It attests to the relevance and usefulness of different research programs in the social sciences but questions, on methodological grounds, that social sciences were pitted against each other when it comes to the portrayal of human nature. Conventional wisdom is that economics is an amoral and dehumanized science because, so it is claimed, of an empirically incorrect and morally questionable image of human nature. Similar accusations have been leveled against organizational economics, which the book focuses on. Accusations are brought forward on psychological, sociological and moral–behavioral grounds, early on by the human relations school and behavioral economics and more recently by post-modern organization theory, critical management theory, feminine theory or anti-organization theory. The target is ‘economic man’: the ‘rational’, self-interested maximizer of own gain (homo economicus). The book suggests that for assessing the question of human nature in organization theory (and possibly in social science research in general) issues of method and approach have to be clarified first. Here, significant differences can be expected among organizational economics, organization psychology and organization sociology. Such clarifications appear promising for constructively informing a debate of the image of human nature in organization research, moving it beyond uncritical common sense argumentation and conventional wisdom. Key questions addressed in the book are: • Does organizational economics theorize about human nature and aim at...