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Liars and Outliers Bruce Schneier: Enabling the Trust That Society Needs to Thrive by Bruce Schneier

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Chapter 9

Institutional Pressures

Store owners generally get to set their own hours. If their customers tend to shop early, the store opens early. If their customers tend to sleep in, the store doesn't open until late morning. Nights, weekends, holidays: a smart store owner is going to match his store's hours to his customers' needs.

This isn't true of stores in a shopping mall. Shopping malls have preset hours, and if you have a store in the mall, you have to adhere to those hours. It doesn't matter who your customers are. Called a “continuous operations clause,” it's written into most mall leases.

This solves a societal dilemma: stores are individually better off if they can set their hours to suit their business, but the stores are collectively better off if everyone shares the same hours so customers know that everything will be open when they go. To ensure that stores follow the group interest, mall operators enforce continuous operations clauses through steep fines.

Societal Dilemma: Mall hours.
Society: Group of merchants.
Group interest: Mall stores all have uniform hours. Competing interest: Maximize short-term profits.
Group norm: Stay open during agreed upon hours. Corresponding defection: Open and close when it makes financial sense.
To encourage people to act in the group interest, society implements these societal pressures:

Institutional: The group fines stores that close during common hours.

As we saw in the previous chapter, solving a Prisoner's Dilemma ...

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