Fri Aug 27, 2004

Altruism as an Organizational Problem

The University of Arizona’s news service has done a little press release covering a recent paper of mine about the social organization of cadaveric organ procurement in the United States. One way to think about the paper is in relation to ongoing debates about offering commercial incentives to donor families. These debates are conducted in individual-level terms—they are about appealing people’s to selfish rather than their altruistic impulses—and they rely on a straightforward contrast between giving and selling. By doing so these arguments (both for and against markets) miss the role of organizational infrastructure and logistical effort in donor procurement, and the wide range of variation in procurement rates associated with it.