Purpose – The paper aims to explicate the systematic creation of social and ecological scarcities within an absolutely monetised economy and derives the necessity to change the “rules of the game” for doing business towards sustainability. Therefore, a model of human behaviour is developed to explain, on the one hand, sustainability-hostile behaviour and to contribute to sustainability-supporting behaviour and “rules of the game” in dynamic interactions, on the other hand. Design/methodology/approach – A model of human behaviour is developed, integrating socio-scientific insights as well as socio-biological and evolutionary-psychological findings. The emergence of human behaviour is conceptualised as an interactive process using the theory of nested control loops including constructivist impulses. Findings – Human behaviour is regarded as the result of three constituting components: cultural shaping (cultural artefacts, education, socialization, enculturation), genetic predisposition (pattern recognition based on instincts, needs, drives, etc.), and situational correctives. These components are connected and interlinked in an “inner model” with the help of four feedback loops (constructivist feedback loop, emergency and reflex feedback loop, interaction feedback loop, and adaptation feedback loop) in the unity of eco- and psychosphere. Research limitations/implications – The developed model of behaviour offers a relatively high degree of abstraction. Further research should consider in detail the constituting components of the model and scrutinise the underlying presumptions and conclusions. Practical implications – Conclusions arise for designing institutional arrangements, on the one hand, and management approaches and dialogue forms for shaping work processes in the dynamic interaction of individuals and institutions (companies and their units, NGOs, financial institutions, insurance companies, public authorities, etc.), on the other hand. Originality/value – Because of the cybernetic interlock of the three constituting impulses for human behaviour cultural factors, genetic predispositions, and situational influences, the presented model provides possibilities to explain sustainability-hostile as well as sustainability-supporting behaviour within the dynamic interaction of individuals and institutions. The target group includes social scientists and economists as well as managers and persons with practical experience in business and politics.
Economics, Individual behaviour, Sustainable development
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