Adaptive Custom

Ekkehart Schlicht

in On Custom in the Economy

Published in print March 1998 | ISBN: 9780198292241
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191596865 | DOI:
 Adaptive Custom

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Because custom is only vaguely defined with respect to its scope and content, this gives rise to the problem of erosion: people will bend the rules of custom in ambiguous cases by slightly underperforming or overperforming. This changes what is normal and thereby shifts the custom in response to other motives and incentives over time. A constraining custom must be expected to eventually disappear, for instance. Critical mass effects can be expected to be undermined by such erosion.

Keywords: critical mass; cultural nullity; erosion; hysteresis; incentives; malleability; motives; network externalities; norms; rules

Chapter.  4288 words. 

Subjects: Microeconomics

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