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Why Ethical Behaviour is Good for the Economy

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Why Ethical Behaviour is Good for the Economy

Towards Growth, Wellbeing and Freedom

9781782549444 Edward Elgar Publishing
Morris Altman, Dean, University of Dundee School of Business (UDSB), Chair Professor of Behavioural and Institutional Economics, and Co-operatives, Dundee, Scotland, UK
Publication Date: 2020 ISBN: 978 1 78254 944 4 Extent: 224 pp
This timely book offers a nuanced critique of the nudge narrative, and demonstrates why and how ethical behaviour can have significant positive economic and wellbeing outcomes. Morris Altman models a complex alternative to the expectations of ethical behaviour and shows how this behaviour can be consistent with competitive market economies, contrary to what conventional economic theory suggests.

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Contents
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This timely book offers a nuanced critique of the nudge narrative, and demonstrates why and how ethical behaviour can have significant positive economic and wellbeing outcomes. Morris Altman models a complex alternative to the expectations of ethical behaviour and shows how this behaviour can be consistent with competitive market economies, contrary to what conventional economic theory suggests.

Providing an alternative theoretical framework to analyse the relationship between ethical behaviour, decision-making environments and capabilities, individual preferences and the economy, Altman examines how being ethical can be an engine for economic growth and development. The book offers a better understanding of how ethical behaviour is good not only for the economy, but also for improving the wellbeing of our society at large whilst respecting and enhancing the rights and freedoms of individuals.

This book is an important read for all those not content with the conventional economic narrative. It is also a provocative and thoughtful book for policy-makers and economists looking to better understand the growing importance of ethical behaviour for the economy.
Critical Acclaim
‘In this ambitious and wide-ranging book, Altman takes a behaviorally informed approach to answer the perennial question of how capitalism relates to ethics. By examining the choices made by firms, consumers, and government, Altman shows how markets and morality can interact and support each other – and more importantly, under which circumstances they do not. In doing so, he offers a blueprint for reform to ensure global wellbeing continues to rise without compromising other ethical goals such as equality and freedom.’
– Mark White, College of Staten Island, CUNY, US

‘Altman has spent many years in the scientific study of the role of morality in economic behavior. This book reports the major findings of this research – research carried out by many economists and policy analysts around the world. His conclusion: that ethical behavior in a market economy is both possible and success-enhancing for both firms and their leaders. For years economists corrupted the top business schools with the message that ethical behavior is a loser, and greed is inevitable in the circle of winners. But the evidence is clearly to the contrary. Business leaders and policy-makers have been changing their tune in recent years, recognizing that honesty and integrity are good both for the individual and for the functioning of a vibrant economy.’
– Herbert Gintis, University of Massachusetts, Amherst and Santa Fe Institute, US

‘Altman has done it again, expanding economics while respecting its insights. He provides a rigorous framework to assess doing well by doing good.’
– Deirdre McCloskey, University of Illinois at Chicago, USA and University of Gothenburg, Sweden

‘In 1987 Amartya Sen published the book Ethics and Economics, in which he invited the economics profession to take better account of the ethical sensibilities that condition economic behavior. The profession has been terribly slow in accepting that invitation. In this book, Morris Altman pushes the conversation forward by exploring a wide range of questions related to the place of ethical conduct in a capitalist economy. We learn here the conditions under which ethical firms can prosper, but also that capitalist markets are apt to sustain both ethical and non-ethical firms. Drawing on both orthodox and heterodox thought, Altman clarifies central questions concerning ethical economic conduct. Thirty years after Sen, the questions pursued here are now central to public debate over corporate social responsibility, and to public policy.’
– George DeMartino, University of Denver, US

Contents
Contents: 1. Introduction: Rethinking Ethics, Economic Theory, and Public Policy 2. The Evolution of Ethics and the Market Economy 3. Understanding Why Ethical Production and Ethical Investment Can Flourish in a Global Economy 4. Ethical Choices in the Economic World 5. Free Will in Economics: Is There Freedom of Choice? 6. The Ethics of Capabilities 7. How Much Are You Willing to Pay to Be Ethical? An Experiment 8. Why Being Green Can Make You Happy and be Good for the Economy 9. The Road to Freedom? Ethical Implications of Economic Theory for Public Policy: Insights from Behaviour Economics Index

This title is available for institutional purchase via Elgaronline.

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eISBN: 978 1 78254 945 1
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