• Entry
  • Reader's guide
  • Entries A-Z
  • Subject index

Opportunism is a foundational assumption of many economic theories that claims human beings are generally self-interested and will take advantage of others when possible. For example, some economic actors will take advantage of another party to advance their interests by making false promises, misrepresenting intentions, reneging on agreements, or changing the terms of a deal to benefit themselves. Other economic actors will be less deliberate by attempting to benefit from free riding. Such behavior, deliberate or otherwise, leaves the “honest” party to the exchange worse off.

Scholars assuming that people are opportunistic do not necessarily believe that everyone is perniciously self-seeking. Rather, they believe that the presence of a few opportunistic individuals means economic exchanges should be structured to protect against potential opportunism. Opportunism is ...

    • Loading...
    locked icon

    Sign in to access this content

    Get a 30 day FREE TRIAL

    • Watch videos from a variety of sources bringing classroom topics to life
    • Read modern, diverse business cases
    • Explore hundreds of books and reference titles