Of course, it isn’t as simple as that. There are many influences the make an enterprise successful, and employee motivation is only one of them. One of the other influences is whether the management is able to harness the good will of the employees.

I would say that both the success of an enterprise and the motivation of employees are different issues from the one I seek to discuss in this article.

social enterprise start ups have a lower failure rate than commercial enterprises.

I would certainly be interested in a link to the evidence. But even so, you would need to control for some other variables before pronouncing some kind of moral judgement on either type of enterprise. As a cautionary note to this, let me point at recent research by John List and Fatemeh Momeni that discovered a form of moral licensing: ‘the “doing good” nature of Corporate Social Responsibility induces workers to misbehave on another dimension that hurts the firm’. It was found to increase ‘sage of CSR increases employee misbehavior — 20% more employees act detrimentally toward our firm by shirking on their primary job duty’.

Although something similar operates within government, there are other pressures that have to do with marrying many different and often conflicting demands that commercial enterprises don’t have. To compare Amazon with government is to compare apples with oranges.

Government and commercial companies do indeed have different sets of demands. However, I don’t think comparing the customer service experienced from Amazon and from the local council is comparing apples with oranges. There is no fundamental reason why it cannot be excellent in both cases.

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Accidental behavioural economist in search of wisdom. Uses insights from (behavioural) economics in organization development. On Twitter as @koenfucius

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