I am always trying to bring together economics and life value. I find myself intrigued at what motivates people within their work and how economics may influence their life values.
I was listening to Radio 4 thought for the Day with the Rt Rev Lord Harries of Pentregarth. He talked about the Harvard Professor Michael J Sandel in his book What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets. In this book he gives a vivid example, “In Israel on one day a year students go from house to house collecting for good causes. Some economists decided to conduct an experiment. One group of students were given a motivating speech and sent on their way. Two other groups were promised a personal bonus on all they collected. This did not come out of the money given for good causes. What the economists discovered is that the group who acted on a purely voluntary basis collected as much as 55% more than those promised a personal reward. Sandel’s first point is that economic incentives might not even work from an economic point of view, but his main theme is that they can crowd out and undermine precious values, like doing something good for its own sake, or a sense of service to society.”
So what does this tell us about the value and incentives of money led initiatives? Does this mean that we need to look at the bottom line of of what the economic market is based on. We see daily in the news the emphasis on honesty and trust needing to be brought back into our banking system.
I find this facinating. For example if we worked with engineers in the same way and based their practice on a theory that produced a series of collapsed buildings, that theory would get an instant rethink. You just wouldn’t re employ them again to build something until they had fixed the problem but amongst our mainstream economists there seems little thought of change just get rid of the bad apples. Remember Einstein: “We cannot solve problems using the same mindset that created them.”
I see our values in life as something that defines us, part of our life’s heritage. Is it time to start reshaping our economic values and find a way that our ecomomic development can become re-aligned by working with the value systems of those who operate it. Its also interesting that according to the Global Alliance for Banking Values there has been while mainstream contemporaries have been hit hard by the financial crisis, this network of progressive banks have largely flourished during it. They say, ” Collectively they represent a significant constituency with a powerful voice. They share a commitment to build a more sustainable future for un(der)served people, communities and the environment, and have developed effective ways to deliver it. steady ”
New Leaf Life Design is a great believer in developing sustainable practices. We have a strong company value system which links in with a profit for ethics vision. I feel committed to encourage other companies to embrace new ways of working so that economics enhances life values for the company and for those which we serve.
You maybe interested in the Schumacher College who are holding a course in November called, Banking on Ourselves: New Models for Financing Community-based Initiatives With Naomi Kingsley, Chris Cook, Michael Shuman and Jonathan Dawson 12-16 November
This course brings together some of the worlds leading figures in community-based finance to explore exciting new ways of bringing together community-level initiatives with investors interested in supporting local resilience.
This is a one-off development opportunity for social investors, entrepreneurs, all those engaged in community-level initiatives and anyone interested in creating or growing innovative mutual finance platforms and models of their own. This seems to show a move towards more value based economics and certainly one New Leaf wants to be part of.