討論逐字稿: Business or Friendship? 2014/10/5 discussion

These are notes from the discussion that include partial transcripts of what we said.


Sharing:
Sharing is like I have something I can give part of it to someone I want to give it to.

Transaction:
A transaction is like I give something to someone else and at the same time I expect that person to give something in return, like feedback, or an object
Of equal value?
Yes.
Transaction may mean the same as 'private goods', that means a thing has it's own property rights, so the owner is the only one that can use it, sell it, dispose of it, so in the market, private goods can be transacted. At the same time, private goods are hard to share with other people. For example, if you need a pencil, you don't often share it with other people.
A pencil? It is very easy to share!
Use simultaneously, no.
Money is hard to share.
You can share a house! Share the right of use with other people.

What's easier to define: a business transaction or a friendship?
Or, what's the difference between the two?
Well, is there emotional affection involved? Are there emotions involved?
But business transactions can be emotional?
I'm talking about affection, or bonding.
A friendship has more bonding?

Yes.
Business transactions have their own bonding, though
Evil bonding!
Maybe business transactions are cool, and friendships are warm.
You can be warm in business
In business, you're always calculating. But in a friendship should you be calculating?
No.
True friendship, no!
Like Amway, is it friendship or business?
It's confusing.
It makes me uncomfortable.

Do you find this generally true in your life? Is trust our basic assumption about other people? When is trust not our basic assumption?
Do you expect people to tell you the truth?
No, I actually do expect this, but gradually I don't expect this. It's socialization.
Originally you give people 'the benefit of the doubt'.
Cynical = pessimistic understanding of society
As I grew up I see that people don't actually tell the truth. Adult life is more about social relations.
And being sociable involves 'white lies'?
What I want to say is, sometimes, adults tell white lies out of politeness, sometimes it's about protecting themselves. So it becomes very hard to differentiate if people tell the truth or not. Like a supervisor telling you something is wrong, it could be partially true, not entirely. Perhaps, you're partly wrong, but he may also be partly wrong, but he makes it all about you and escapes responsibility. So you have the assumption that he wouldn't tell the truth.
A kind of small betrayal.
But it hurts because the assumption is they should be telling the truth.

Do you share things with other people? What are you most likely to share with people in your life? Food? Clothes? Money? Music? What motivates you to share?
We share fancy bread with each other. Pastries.
It's different to share with strangers, acquaintances or friends.
What would you share with a stranger?
Priority seats!
A light for a cigarette
Maybe even cigarette, and it's the start of a friendship, or gossip
Directions or information.
But sometimes on a long trip, they'll share their stories.

What do you share with acquaintances?

Couchsurfing vs. airbnb
Couchsurfing is sharing
Airbnb is a transaction

A business transaction can shade into friendship.

Conditioning experiments
Learned helplessness = how depression gets developed

What do you share with friends?
Everything except money!
Not everything!
Not clothes! Or razors, it's not a good thing to share.
I would share a razor, actually.
Would you share underwear?
No!
I would borrow from a family member if I was desperate.
I would share time with friends.
Is it share time or spend time with?
For example, if she needs time to talk.
Normally you say 'spend time' but you can share your time with someone too.


What is cooperation? When do you find yourself cooperating with people? Do you like cooperating with people?
Is it fun or is it a burden? Neither! It's a spectrum
I agree!

When do you find yourself cooperating with people?

Difference between cooperation and help?
Cooperation requires some sacrifice.
Really?
A little bit!
I need to inhibit or suppress or cancel some of my schedule to cooperate with you.
I think cooperation is like teamwork
Right, so teamwork you have to make your opinion fit into the framework.
So you have to sacrifice something of your own to achieve the team goal.
Maybe sacrifice is too serious a word.
How about compromise?
That's better.
So cooperating suggests you are doing something to meet a goal, which is not only your own. There must be two people at least to cooperate
Cooperation always requires compromise?
Sometimes, probably not always.
But what’s the difference between that and help?
Help is just a one way contribution, and cooperate is multiple.
Contribution from most of the people in the group.
It involves a status difference, help does.
You can get fulfilment from helping someone, so it's maybe not one way.
Maybe not all the people in the group contribute their effort some people have superior skills, and will have more knowledge and more contribution to achieve the goal.
Co-dependent people will put people in a weak position, so they will help people to make themselves feel valuable and important.
I feel that help is an imbalance, and cooperation is between equals, or near equals, or presumed equals.
I'm thinking about the motivation to help. Sometimes it's from the heart, it helps people naturally, but some people do some kind of thing for some expected return.

Okay, in the Chinese character 幫助, there's 'bo', which is money, and 'li' which is power, or strength
But in 合作, there's two people and one mouth and one hand.

What impedes cooperation? Is it different when you're told to cooperate with someone than when you choose to? How is it different?
The difference is happy or unhappy. There are so many interesting experiments about choice like this.


What impedes cooperation?
Lack of trust.
When we cooperate with people who have similar background or similar skill or knowledge, we feel better.
But we can cooperate with people in an imbalance status?
Yes, but it's harder.
Sometimes we have to do that, yes, but it's harder to get to the result.
The freerider effect: like when we need to finish the group homework, maybe Susan does all the work.
It's about opportunism, if two people are carrying a stone, you don't know who's putting more effort in.
Does it matter? Who does more work?
Well, yes, if you get pissed off.
It matters if they get the same pay, they will care.
What about the prisoner's dilemma, sometimes you don't cooperate because your individual benefits are not aligned with the common benefits.
Or you can earn more profit when you work on your own.
Or maybe they don't trust each other, and cannot communicate with each other before they make a decision.
Or some information is obscured, like people's salaries.


Transactions:
There's a theory about the "transaction cost economics"
In the business world he believes there are some conditions to know if a transaction happened or not.
Asset specificity.
Do you mean the conditions under which the transaction will happen?
Yes, the level of asset specificity is a major condition.
Like a diamond? Or…
It means if there's something special it's been made special for the other person, then the holdup problem will happen. If I know I buy something from you, and there's only one buyer in the world, you can only sell it to me, there's a holdup problem, you can lower the price. I can ask for any price I want.
It's a buyer's market.

So what does this have to do with relationships between people?
You asked how much do you have to know about someone to make a transaction with them. In this condition, when the holdup problem happens, there's no transaction between the two parties. I'm not talking about the person, it's maybe two friends.
So for the seller, it's very important to know what kind of product they want to sell, and also the demand of their buyer. That's why the 'customer survey' become s so important these days, and why Google or FB have such a big contribution to marketing these days. Because they can collect data about sellers and make the transaction smoother.

Do you notice, talking about sharing and talking about transaction our language has kind of changed? The kinds of words we're using.
Now it's all marketing, and data, and costs, demands. More like categories and classes. Impersonal.
You don't agree
It's possible. Some people will blame economists, they thought they are the origins of the financial crisis. They think they teach to economics in MBA classes, and when the MBAs go to wall street, they are more about economics about than other people, that on wall street there's no empathy.
I think that it's not 'too much' economics, but rather that the focus of economics is not enough about people.
The water can carry the boat, but also sink the boat.
Knowledge can be good or bad
What's the English expression about this?
"knowledge is a two-edged sword." I think the Chinese expression about water is more helpful though
I have to say though, sociologists don't actually agree with the transaction cost theory. They think that kind of theory is under-socialized.
What does that mean?
Do not consider some social conditions, like status, institutions, etc.
I think economics is more complex than our theories explain, because people are more complex than that.
Complex = complicated
Like they find people are more willing to buy 2nd hand cars from friends or family
Why?
Trust.
Only in Taiwan.
No, in the US!
That's my experience in the US. Second-hand cars are more likely bought from a friendship network than a stranger or dealer. I think because of accountability.
Social accountability.
Yes! So actually in business transactions, they are not always just to be so…sometimes they will consider the others' feelings or concerns or interests, when they have some long-term relationship. Like our company, it sells services. So when we propose a service, we will try to cook a solution especially for them, we have to think about what the customer thinks of the service, will it help them, does their manager change? We will really think about what they think about our services.
[supporting the network, not just your own interests. The guy can make the parts himself, but sometimes he gives orders out to the wider community so that he can help them keep their doors open. A backup system? ]
It's about a community.
Most of the time when Japanese firms cooperate, its because the leaders know each other.
Also in Taiwan, I believe.
So the bond between these people is more strong.

Back to the second hand car issue. When people buy new cars, they prefer to go to dealers or their friends.
Their friends wouldn't have new cars though. Most people are not that rich?
The quality of the products will influence how much information we need to get from our counterpart.
That's true.
So when we just want to buy a new product, we don't need to know a lot about our counterpart, but when we don't trust the quality of the product as much, then we need to know more about the counterpart.
In economics, they call the second-hand car market a 'lemon' market, in contrast to the 'cherry' market.
A used car that doesn't work well is called a lemon.

Going back to the Japanese guy, is it altruism or wider self-interest?
I think it's altruism.
Really? Why?
What do you mean by wider self interest?
It's my back-up system, so I need to feed them business.
Or it can be both?
Why?
Altruism is thinking about the other, and wider self-interest is doing for my own good.
Oh, I do good for you, but in the end it's for me to do well
Does altruism always involve sacrifice?
Parents who are very good to their children will sacrifice themselves
Is there altruism in parent-child relations? Isn't it self-interest?
The definition for altruism in Miriam-Webster, it includes 'may not be helpful to' or 'does not benefit the originator animal'.
But does 'animal' include 'human'?
In my opinion, altruism is similar to wider-self-interest, but there is just a difference in level.
For short-term relationships compared to long-term, does altruism happen more easily in a long-term or short-term relationship?
My guess would be that people would be more willing to invest in a long-term relationship.
But! That's actually wider self interest, not altruism.
Investment is expecting return.
Altruism does not expect return.
Who is actually an altruist in this world?

Empathy might be self-interest for species...
Because empathy comes from compassion, you have a common passion with others, so that's a kind of self-interest.
同情 = sympathy
同理 = empathy

Next discussion: debt and obligation and empathy









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