Buying influence: the relationship of incentives and values
Hutchinson, Michael T.
Gartner, Scott Sigmund
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Governments and their respective armed forces are in the business of influencing human behavior. Whether attempting to force compliance with a policy objective, enforce conformity to established norms, or convert a value system to match their own, political and military leaders employ a variety of covert and overt means to persuade a target audience to modify its behavior. Providing incentives, financial or otherwise, is one of the most prevalent means of influence, yet conventional wisdom holds that allies can be rented, but never bought. This thesis seeks to analyze whether human behavior can be reliably purchased, and if so, whether such a relationship can transcend bribed compliance. An analysis of prevailing economic and psychological theories suggests an interesting, dynamic relationship between incentives and intrinsic values—some scholars claiming that extrinsic reward is harmful to motivation, others suggesting the opposite. A case study of recent stability operations in Afghanistan highlights how incentives can reinforce a rapid transformation in intrinsic values. A series of vignettes contained within the case study suggests that intrinsic values are not as immutable as one might presume, and that extrinsic reward can rapidly transform them in a confused or fragmented system.
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