The pursuit of self-interest can produce a lot of good, but it needs a bit of guidance if society is to prosper.
The author examines the questions of why individuals behave the way they do and if there is a natural impulse to do good. This article discusses such issues as whether an individual, pursuing his or her own self-interest, can improve the general welfare and whether people have an innate intuition that leads them to do good. In coming to the conclusion that the pursuit of self-interest can produce a lot of good if it is balanced with a bit of societal guidance, the author brings to light issues of corporate governance, performance pay, legal and monetary incentives, and other forms of regulation. It is in these arenas, the author points out, that intuition, rather than a more empirical approach, can best be put to good use. He argues that intuition has been lacking from the more utilitarian view of economics and management and that, generally speaking, a blend of both approaches is optimal.