ECONOMIC GAMES PEOPLE PLAY by Shlomo & Sharone L. Maital Maital


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The idea of a new social contract between the warring factions of the economy has become a ritualistic intonation, with different writers changing the pitch. The Maitals--she a psychologist in Haifa, he the author of Minds, Markets, & Money--dress their version up in the also-trendy trappings of game theory, where abstract games are played in order to see how individuals or groups deal with choices based on limited information regarding the behavior of others. In fact, this is almost a compendium of games--and silly subtitles. For example, a situation calling for a corporation to either invest heavily in a new product, or wait for its competitors to go first and then decide, is called an R&D game. The two choices are labeled Quick Draw (go in early) or After You, Garcon (wait). Different corporations will see the same R&D game as either Quick Draw or After You, Garcon, depending upon their perception of markets and wise policies; and this whole tag game is set up to make the point, for the umpteenth time, that a lot of American firms have a managerial style oriented toward After You, Garcon. Other games are Hot Potato, the Nuts Game, and the Garbage Game. This last is designed to show that without a core set of agreements to hold a system together, problems get dumped where it is most convenient for unstable coalitions of problem-dumpers. Along the way, the Maitals argue that the society is structured so that competitive types come out on top of organizations, while what we need is cooperation. (The family is a more cooperative model, according to the games.) This is the kind of stuff that occupies executive seminars.

Pub Date: April 30th, 1984
Publisher: Basic Books