Rational Choice og socialt-normative aktørmotiver i arbejdslivet - en kritisk revision af den klassiske visdom

  • Steen Scheuer


Rational choice and social normative actor motives at work: a critical revision of received wisdom This article challenges the received wisdom’ of human relations theory from Mayo to present day organization theory, and that of sociological theory in general that has regarded workers’ social motivations and social norms as being opposed to rational choice types of motivation. Through a critical re-reading of classical studies in indus-trial sociology (including the Hawthorne experiments by Roethlisberger and Dickson, the Luton studies by Gold-thorpe, Lockwood and colleagues and Burawoy’s Manu-facturing Consent), it is shown that workers on the floor shop in these studies had mixed motivations, that is, they applied social-normative motivations for only some of their actions. These social normative motivations diverged at times from rational choice motivation, but at other times converged with the workers’ rational choice motives. The critical review of the literature shows that not only do workers have both types of motivation, but that they actively and reflectively choose between them in concrete situations, and that these choices are often based on a reasonable level of information. Modern organization theo-ry then throws the baby out with the bath water in its critique of rational choice actor motives. Rational choice and social normative motives supplement each other in understanding workers’ behaviour.