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Redefining the Social Contract July 1, 2010

Posted by alessiofalcohse in Blogroll.
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Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s “social contract” theory was not based on a real tangible property, but on several idealistic concepts of justice. Nevertheless, the benefits deriving from a fair social contract are visible and tangible. Similarly, reputation and reputational components may appear to be rather intangible and idealistic concepts, although they are in some way connected to organizational efficiency, productivity and eventually success.

Although Rousseau’s terms may appear to contrast with our project at a first sight, a deeper analysis demonstrates that his theory revolves – although from another angle – around the concept of reputation and credibility. In fact, establishing and maintaining an efficient and effective positive social contract among several partners, in Rousseau’s words, could be translated into shaping and consolidating a good company’s reputation within the Digital Reputation project prospective. Therefore, all the documented benefits deriving from Jean-Jacques Rousseau are likewise achievable through the exercise of creating and maintaining a company’s reputation.

In this regard, Rousseau’s theory shows from another prospective that good reputation not only minimizes opportunistic behavior and distrust, but also enhances organizational efficiency and productivity. In a context where trade competition is becoming extremely tight, producing more knowledge about reputation and reputational components would benefit the research as a science and eventually the competitiveness of Finnish companies.

In conclusion, Rousseau’s theory provides further reasons and motivation for studying and conceptualizing reputation. However, our team conceptualizes reputation through the use of a wider concept. In this regard, our working hypothesis is that good reputation not only relates to approach tendencies (e.g. BIS/BAS), but it also relates to specific frontal alpha activity (either as trait or status). Through the use of several measures (e.g. EEG, EMG, EKG), we aim at studying not only reputation but also several cognitive and emotional processes whilst the subject is processing the news message. Additionally, we are also interested in analyzing the tone of the message (positive vs. negative) and its potential influence of the subject’s reputational attitude towards the company. Recording emotional responses and brain’s activity will provide Finnish companies with valuable knowledge and eventually long lasting competitive advantage.