148. "Managers in the Moral Dimension: What Etzioni Might Mean to Corporate Managers," Business Ethics Quarterly, (August 1993), pp. 169-170.
The significance of the article by Shaw and Zollers is that it advances socio-economics in several major directions we must move:
1. We need to stop criticizing the neoclassical paradigm on the grounds that it has been done to perfection and that anyhow you cannot replace a theory with nothing. We need instead to keep evolving, and elaborating our constructive alternative approach.
2. We should, as the authors do well, not throw out the baby with the muddy bathwater. There are major elements of the neoclassical paradigm that socio-economics can subsume. Recognizing the role of self interest and the place of the individual are two such key elements.
3. We need to accumulate findings, concepts, insights rather than each go on his or her own ego trip. Science is a community effort, a common together of many. Shaw and Zollers build on my effort, as my model builds on the works of many others. One could choose another base for socio-economics. But we need to use one paradigm and work with it, rather than go off in scores of directions. One of the reasons the neoclassicists are relatively powerful is that whatever differences there are among them, they all draw on the same basic paradigm.
4. We need to specify the action implications of socio-economics. Here Shaw and Zollers are particularly strong. They go a long way to show how a manager would think, decide and act differently if the manager would have been trained in socio-economics rather than neoclassical economics. We need much more of this kind of work.
5. The next two steps are, first, teaching. I am often asked to suggest socio-economists that would be available, full time, to work overseas in developing nations or teach in business schools, but there seems to be very few that can be moved and no new crop as of now because we do not yet have any place that teaches socio-economics in a systematic place, beyond one or two courses. In short we need more socio-economists, either converted or newly minted.
6. Second, we need to specify even more the action implications. Take, for instance, the question of how decisions are to be made, as to how much one ought to invest in R&D. The neoclassical models assume an incredible amount of knowledge, such as what the interest and inflation rates are going to be over the life of the R&D project, the speed at which a new invention will be developed, and the acts of competitors world-wide (will some Swiss, Israeli, or Taiwanese invent the same, similar, or better product before us?), among others. In effect, none of these predictions, needed for most if not all mathematical-rationalistic models, can be even approximated. But this is sheer criticism. The question is, how will an executive not caught up in neoclassical mumbo-jumbo decide how much to invest in R&D? Answering such questions, if only on a first approximation base, is the place we need to go next.
7. Last but not least, we need to continue the fine sensitivity that the two authors of the paper before us have shown of being aware not only of our social science hat and our role as teachers of managers and others, but also discharge our responsibilities as persons concerned with the ethical implications of what we are teaching, recommending and studying.