As if the Future Mattered: Translating Social and Economic Theory into Human Behavior

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Overview


There has never been a better time to explore the ways in which values relating to the future can be preserved and nurtured despite contemporary capitalism's tendency toward shortsighted selfishness. Prevailing beliefs in the 1980s were especially permissive regarding notions of individualism. While the concern for the future displayed by human beings throughout history may not be less today than at other times, a wide variance persists in how individuals, firms, and other institutions indicate concern for the future--some act as though only concerned about tomorrow, others as though concerned for perpetuity. Thus it is especially relevant now to inquire what can be done, through changes in institutional arrangements or fashions of thought and perception, to encourage future-regarding tendencies.

These themes are explored in twelve previously unpublished essays by people ranging from the well-known business analyst, Michael Porter, and the past President of the World Bank, Robert McNamara, to Zbigniew Bochniarz, a leading architect of "green plans" in East Central Europe since the fall of the Berlin Wall, and Lisa Gravitz, the President of Co-op America, an organization that assists U.S. businesses adopting socially responsible rules and behaviors. Other contributors include a lawyer, sociologist, political scientist, businessman-turned-foundation director, and three economists.

The volume will be of interest to businesspeople, economists, environmentalists, political scientists, and ethicists.

Neva R. Goodwin is Co-Director and Co-Founder of the Global Development and Environment Institute, Tufts University.

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Product Details

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 Capital Choices: National Systems of Investment 15
2 Economic Meanings of Trust and Responsibility 45
3 A Second Paradox of Thrift: Investment Strategies and the Future 83
4 Factoring Environmental Issues into Investment and Loan Decisions 103
5 Economic Regimes, Strategic Investments, and Entrepreneurial Enterprises: Notes toward a Theory of Economic Development 129
6 Thinking about the Future: The Complementary Roles of Economists and Environmentalists 171
7 Caring for the Future: Minimizing Change or Maximizing Choice? 187
8 Rewriting the Rules: Creating New Structures 207
9 Energy for Development: Institutions, Incentives, and the Misallocation of Resources 231
10 Leadership for Sustainable Development: Some Reflections on the Central and Eastern European Experience 249
11 The Office of the Future Citizen: Commentary on Robert McNamara's "A Vision for Our Nation and the World in the Twenty-first Century" 267
12 A Vision for Our Nation and the World in the Twenty-first Century 275
Conclusion: A Moral/Economic Regime That Could Act as if the Future Matters 293
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