Free Enterprise: Values In Action
This program is aimed at exploring the role of values in a free economic system. The program is an extensive one, and has included six conferences, a dedicated volume (Moral Markets: The Critical Role of Values in Free Enterprise) to be published by Princeton University Press, a popular book (The Mind of the Market) and two debates.
The goal of our investigation has been to develop a better description of Homo economicus and of modern, market-based economic systems of the kind sometimes referred to with the “free enterprise” label. There is a caricature of amoral self interest that is frequently advanced as a full portrait of human nature which we have sought to correct. In our view, the pay-offs from a market-based system require solving fundamental problems of cooperation and reliability. Values, and the legal and institutional frameworks which put them into action, are critical factors in solving these problems. Our goal has been to create an interdisciplinary and fully rigorous basis for a re-description of free enterprise in terms of values.
Our program has drawn on the latest developments in such diverse disciplines as management, economics, evolutionary behavioral science, neuroscience, business studies and law. Our participants have included many prominent scholars from these disciplines as well as business leaders. A full participant list appears below. The values explored have included reciprocity, promise keeping, commitment, fairness, and cooperation.