Thursday, October 18, 2012

Shared Rewards

I really enjoyed the article "How to Get the Rich to Share the Marbles" by Jonathan Haidt as I felt that it perfectly encompassed people's attitudes toward sharing.  People, generally, are much more willing to share an object that was acquired through team production if they feel that everyone pulls their fair share.  If no one else contributed to your achieving something, you are much less likely to want to share the rewards and benefits.

This is evident in school all the time with group projects.  When students feel that everyone contributed equally they are happy to share the credit received for the work.  However, when one or two students loaf or slack on the assignment, the students pulling more than their fair share of the weight are much less enthusiastic about having to share the rewards.  While they may not actually punish their fellow students, it will certainly change their opinion of them going forward and they will be much less likely to want to work with the loafers on future assignments.

Another area where I think the team production is evident in an indirect way is when looking at the salaries or wages of members of a team.  For example, all workers on an assembly line in a factory or plant earn essentially the same wages as each role on the assembly line is judged to have equal importance to the final outcome of a production.  However, if you look at professional team sports such as a baseball team, the players that are viewed are contributing more to the success of the team earn higher salaries than other players.  Sometimes it does not always work out this way as players can over or under perform their contracts, but the amount paid to them generally is based off of how much management feels they can contribute to the success of the team.

I also really agreed with Haidt's conclusion at the end of the article and I think it does coincide with my past experiences working with a team.  For example, on sports teams coaches frequently make all people complete grueling conditioning exercises, even if certain players are in better shape and may not require the extra work.  This helps build a camaraderie amongst the team and creates a feeling that everyone on the team is in together and worked hard at trying achieve their ultimate goal.

I think politicians would also be much more successful in pitching policies if they punished or rewarded the American public as a whole, not just as individual groups.  Rich people would have much less to complain about getting their taxes raised, if everyone had their taxes raised, and poor people would be able to understand the philosophy that everyone has to pitch in their fair share.  Unfortunately some people are in "cahoots" as Haidt says, with the rule makers and that does cause problems with the sharing mentality.  The rich people, in many cases, did not have to go through the team production in receiving their reward, so they do not own the shared-sacrifice mentality when it comes to what they possess.

1 comment:

  1. You might consider more what sharing equally means if talent is unequal. (When you come up with the answer for that you can publish your result in a philosophy journal. :-) It's not obvious what the right answer is.) You can then extend this too unequal value of having the work done.

    I think your assembly line example is factually flawed - seniority does matter in what people are paid. But the extremity in pay differential is not what you see in professional sports.