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Saturday, August 14, 2004

A New Twist on Human Capital Theory

Anyone who has ever had a cubicle-job or worked on a team has probably noticed that many people are slackers. That is, most people will free ride when they can.

As a side note, it is my contention that frustration over the free rider problem, which has become more acute in the past couple of decades as businesses move more and more towards "team projects", contributes to the popularity of shows such as Survivor. While people cannot vote slackers off their real-life team, they can live vicariously through the intrigue and "gotcha" votes at the tribal council.

All that said, entire sub-fields of economics have been dedicated to trying to solve the free rider problem. Mainly, economists have decided that if management can create the propoer incentive scheme it can mitigate the free rider, moral hazard, and principal-agent problems.

Evidently, economists were looking at the problem through the wrong lens. As a humble reminder that economics is probably not the be-all end-all, scientists have been able to make lazy monkeys work-a-holics through gene therapy!!

Oh, so we can have better workers through chemistry. Great...

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