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Journal articles (2011), Rationality and Society, 23 (1), pp. 3-34

Breaking up is hard to do: Irrational inconsistency in commitment to an industry peer network

SGOUREV Stoyan , ZUCKERMAN Ezra W.

This paper strengthens the basis for a key claim of contemporary economic sociology – that strong ties among capitalists cannot be reduced to rational considerations. Support for this claim has been limited by reliance on an external standard of rationality, whereby irrationality in commitment to a partner or network is based on an observer’s evaluation of an actor’s interests. In this article we address this limitation by developing an internal standard for assessing the rationality of an actor’s commitment, which is derived from Davidson’s (1980) definition of akrasia or ‘incontinence.’ In addition, we clarify the mechanisms that produce ‘akratic’ commitment among capitalists: (a) shortterm emotions that overwhelm rational calculation; and (b) a sense of loyalty that leads one to incorporate others’ interests into one’s own. Finally, we provide systematic evidence of akratic commitment and the proposed mechanisms from studies of an industry peer network in the remodeling construction industry.

SGOUREV, S. and ZUCKERMAN, E.W. (2011). Breaking up is hard to do: Irrational inconsistency in commitment to an industry peer network. Rationality and Society, 23(1), pp. 3-34.