Building a Market: From Personal to Impersonal Exchange

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Adam Smith identified two key components in the wealth creation process of human societies: exchange and specialization. More than two centuries later relatively little is understood about the underlying process by which people build exchange systems and discover comparative advantage. In this chapter we report on a pilot experiment that explores the social mainsprings that give rise to the market. Specifically, using cash-motivated participants we compare and contrast the personal, social interactions within a village with those of the participants engaged in long-distance trade among a system of interconnected virtual villages.


In Paul J. Zak (Ed.), Moral Markets: The Critical Role of Values in the Economy.

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Princeton University Press