The economic significance of the gift, from interest to altruism

The economic significance of the gift, from interest to altruism

One does not give without expecting that one will receive something back in exchange. The unspoken truth of most individuals or companies is that giving creates an obligation. The secret invisible hand of exchange economies sets in motion capitals of relationship, goods, and services. Giving and receiving does not only mean the transfer of ownership but also the transfer of significance.

The Christmas celebration context creates the opportunity for the exchange of gifts and a stock exchange of meanings depending on who gives, who receives and who gives back. The generalized reciprocity that increases the rating of the suppliers who have offers according to the expectations of the customers, increases the profit of the big stores and the moral debt of those who receive to those who give.

The gift in the context of the market economy

In the context of the market economy, the short-term relationships between the seller and the buyer are the basis of the transactional order of the gift. During the Christmas period, the repeating custom of the yearly giving of the gifts we make to each other seats at the intersection of the short-term relationships between the seller and the buyer, with the long-term relationships between the giver and the recipient.

Especially in the professional services sector, it has become a custom for suppliers to give a small gift to customers to strengthen the relationship and /or to bring them back into good business relationships. Thus, exchange ecosystems are created that, cumulatively, trade large amounts of money and turn the mussel of circumstantial consumption.

The gift in the context of personal relationships

The spheres of gift exchange roll from the business plan to the personal one, creating a network of affiliations and attachments that generate social value. In fact, through the exchange of gifts, one reaches a community, not of goods but services. I give you and give me, and this exchange validates our relationship. In this context, the gift is simply a social glue.

According to the study conducted by Ferratum Grup, worldwide, Romania is in third place among the countries whose inhabitants spend the highest percentage of incomes during Christmas. Even though consumption has adjusted sharply in the third quarter, the recorded increase in the volume of consumption is 4.5%. No less than 34% of the monthly incomes of Romanians are mainly allocated to gifts in December. The first place is occupied by Brazil with 91%, followed by Poland with 36% and Australia, Spain, and Romania are in the third place, on an equal footing.

The reciprocity of the gift as a social mechanism

The reciprocity of the gift sometimes has a basic psychological mechanism: „to like and to be liked” because to be preferred for the gift is to be liked by someone and in response to favor that giver just because he/she likes you. It happens quite often that some companies that want to have a close collaboration with the state „to like” the officials who decide certain acquisitions. A form of purchase by the gift of goodwill. The power rapport and a relationship of dependence between the giver and the recipient. The informal consecration of the gift, in this case, as the special attention you receive in return for the gift you give.

But let’s not disenchant this contagious celebration of giving. The gift, beyond the instrumental character, („give to receive”) is also the relationship with the other. I give you a gift because I want to be friends, and our friendship makes us stronger.

In this perspective, the individual motivation of the gift is placed in a specific social context when „together” means protection from the outside danger or advantage in capitalizing on opportunities.

The gift that is a sign of humanity

At the corporate level, social responsibility campaigns are also a form of giving. In this case, the motivations are organized around social norms such as help or empathy. A self-anchored altruism that has the effect of alliances between competitors to support a noble cause. The giving act extends to important cases of help that do not necessarily involve reciprocity, but which strengthen the trust between the participants.

In this case, reciprocity is implied and has essential social roles because it allows competitive fair play and compliance with the rules of the game. At the same time, it facilitates the efficient functioning of organizations of all types through mutual trust and mutual support and strengthens basic relationships between individuals, communities and, why not, governments. It is the essential relationship in families and various forms of cooperation and is present in all communities.

In conclusion

Reciprocity or its absence explains the deviations from the competitive balance and is closely involved in the tactics of maintaining relationships. In the business environment, the mechanisms of giving and therefore of reciprocity take interested but also altruistic forms. In recent years, the companies’ redefinition of participation in society has also meant a reallocation of attention and resources to large social causes. For companies, giving has become being involved in the community from which they receive. Money as an accessed resource for social causes sets in motion the gift mechanism that can ultimately produce even more money.