Friday, October 21, 2011

Ruth Grant's Book

For a very interesting background on the perceptions of the use of "voluntary" incentives, check out a book by my Duke colleague, Ruth Grant. The book is "Strings Attached: Untangling the Ethics of Incentives," from Princeton U Press.

Grant offers a history of the growth of incentives in early twentieth-century America, identifies standards for judging incentives, and examines incentives in four areas--plea bargaining, recruiting medical research subjects, International Monetary Fund loan conditions, and motivating students. In every case, the analysis of incentives in terms of power yields strikingly different and more complex judgments than an analysis that views incentives as trades, in which the desired behavior is freely exchanged for the incentives offered.

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Do you have suggestions on where we could find more examples of this phenomenon?