Responsibility and Economics
Martin-Luther Universitat Discussion Paper No. 2007-6
37 Pages Posted: 25 Jun 2007
Date Written: 2007
Empirically, responsibility is a concept increasingly made use of in order to address societal issues. The debate on corporate social responsibility and corporate citizenship is a case in point. At the same time, it is a concept mainstream economics has, so far, hardly touched on. The paper shows that the application of economic reasoning to the responsibility concept can instruct a twofold learning process: First, the very tradition of economics allows to better understand and elaborate the semantics of responsibility. Here, the paper develops the concept of ordo-responsibility that differentiates between the initial basic game and the related meta-games. The focus thus shifts to the rule-setting processes and rule-finding discourses for which the actors can accept governance responsibility and discourse responsibility, respectively. Second, the rational-choice analysis of the responsibility concept also produces important insights for main-stream economic theory. Building on a simple model that delineates the responsibility aptitude of an actor, the paper explains why standard economics tends to attribute the rule-setting function exclusively to state actors. Yet, as the underlying nation-state paradigm depends on social determinants that are not universally given, such economic theory shows a double blind spot. Against this backdrop, the paper sketches out how to broaden the conventional perspective and identifies policy recommendations for state actors and business corporations.
Keywords: responsibility, institutional economics, constitutional economics, economic ethics, corporate citizenship, global governance, corporate social responsibility, semantics, governance, globalization
JEL Classification: A11, A13, D02, D63, M14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation