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About the authors: Professor Paul Frijters is a professor of economics at the University of Queensland. The theory is vulnerable for criticism from specialists, who obviously can advance all kinds of counter-arguments, and it is doubtful if Frijters can answer them all.

An Economic Theory of Greed, Love, Groups, and Networks - Paul Frijters and Gigi Foster

That is not fatal, as long as the theory is able to prove her worth in all sorts of applications. Unfortunately, the book is not filled with applications.

go to link The contents is mainly philosophical and theoretical. It is true that Frijters has developed mathematical models, but they are banished to an appendix at the end. Your columnist is excited by this appendix. It is regrettable that these models have not been published before, except in technical reports and internal manuscripts. They have never been scrutinized by other authoritative economists. Also the validation with empirical facts is missing. So there remains a lot to be done in order to secure the scientific acceptance for the theory 2.

Undoubtedly Frijters is aware of this task, because his former teacher, the Dutch economist Bernard van Praag, had to fight all his life for scientific recognition. Thus it will be interesting to see what Frijters himself will do with his findings. Frijters states that love originates from the subjective rationality of the individual, in interaction with mythical images and phantasies.

Love can even be an impulse, which is active at the subconscious level. This vision reminds of the existing anthropological, sociological and psychological theories about early cultures, such as in medieval Europe 3. It is a pity that these theories are not mentioned, for that would have clarified the nuances. That is also true for the ideal-type of the classical homo economicus , which nowadays is rejected by many scientists, including economists.

Frijters maintains this ideal-type for practical reasons. This is allowed, provided that the theory is verified and justified by empirical data. Love occurs witin groups. The formation of groups is the core of the theory of Frijters.


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Groups develop their own morals, which become institutional 4. The various groups are mutually connected in a value-neutral social network. Frijters focuses on the analysis of trade networks. In the course of time the networks and groups can transform into each other. Examples are fusions between enterprises, branch organizations, or reversely the subcontracting of activities.


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  6. Frijters complains that the economics neglects group processes, but this is somewhat unfair with regard to the institutional current. The book discovers love in all sorts of phenomena: marriage, the military training, religion, trade- and professional organizations, and nationalism. It is in part a subconscious process, and even innate.

    The text is well-written, but this can not conceal that the matter is complex. There is plenty of relevant literature, and it is rather speculative to unite them into a single curb. Also when the authors discuss the abundant literature of the theme group power , references to existing studies would have been helpful. This would strengthen the scientific foundation of the original ideas of the authors.

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    And when the hierarchies and bureaucracies are discussed, the sociologist Max Weber could have been mentioned. The form of the network plays a crucial role in the economic models of Frijters. Thus the contents of the neoclassical paradigm is extended, whilst at the same time a relation is forged with institutionalism and with the economic sociology. It has already been remarked, that the network theory is banished to the appendix. Perhaps this is done in order to please readers who lack mathematical skills.

    By the way, the authors do not really address one particular group of readers.