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The Economics of Ethics and the Ethics of Economics

Values, Markets and the State

Edited by Geoffrey Brennan and Giuseppe Eusepi

This book makes a rational and eloquent case for the closer integration of ethics and economics. It expands upon themes concerned with esteem, self-esteem, emotional bonding between agents, expressive concerns, and moral requirements.
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Chapter 5: Awards: A View from Economics

Bruno S. Frey and Susanne Neckermann


Bruno S. Frey1 and Susanne Neckermann2 Awards are widely used Awards are ubiquitous in all countries of the world irrespective of whether a country is a monarchy or a republic, a democracy or a dictatorship, a traditional or modern society or governed by a party with a left-wing or right-wing ideology. As is well known, in the United Kingdom the Queen and the government bestow many lordships and knighthoods (with the title ‘Sir’) each year. But many people are unaware that also in the United States the President and Congress bestow orders in the form of medals, namely the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Presidential Citizens Medal and the Congressional Gold Medal, as well as a great number of military awards such as Purple Hearts, Bronze and Silver Stars. A flood of orders, medals and titles was handed out in communist countries, such as the Soviet Union or the German Democratic Republic. Awards are also popular in the corporate sectors of market economies. Firms honor their employees as ‘Employee of the Month’. The media also supports this activity and regularly chooses the ‘Person of the Year’ (Time), or at least ‘Best Managers’ (Business Week) or ‘CEOs of the Year’ (Financial World). In sports, athletes receive the honor of being chosen ‘Sports Personality of the Year’ (the BBC has no less than seven categories), and of being admitted into one of the many Halls of Fame. In the arts, culture and the media, awards are also of central importance. A few...

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