Symbiosis in LOs LO11240
Tue, 3 Dec 1996 10:01:59 -0500

Replying to LO11214 --

Ben writes:

>Here's a simple theory, that I think has merit: An organization should not
>seek to dominate its competitors, but rather make them better. This
>implies some free flow of information/knowledge.

I couldn't agree more with this theory, but I am concerned that achieving
such a state of equilibrium may not be possible given the norms of human

I can't count how many times I have seen the validity of cooperative
behavior demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt to groups of individuals
through role play, staged experiment, and even games. Yet in every single
group there is always at least one holdout who will not buy in - no matter
how rational, well ordered, or pursuasive the other participants are.
This person or persons persists in self-serving behavior despite evidence
that cooperation pays more. In almost all cases their selfish behavior
causes a role reversal in previously cooperative individuals, perhaps
because of an erosion of confidence, perhaps because of some other factor.
This is demonstrated in the classical Prisoner's Dilemma.

My concern is that this is not only a tendency of individuals but of
groups as well. If empirical data will not dissuade individuals, how much
less likely is it to effect groups? Although many current management
theorists are outlining a future where cooperative growth and long term
relationships are the basis of business decisions, I do not believe such a
model can compete against the more durable processes of greed and


If humans are prey to authoritatian behavior by a few individuals, is this
a cycle? Can it can be broken?

Why exactly do cooperative individuals wind up in lose-win situations with
more aggressive individuals? What is the process at work here?

What effects do the tendencies of individuals have on group behavior
regarding cooperation?

If the benefits of cooperative behavior are so easily demonstrated, why do
people persist in ignoring the evidence?

Are the members of this group representative of people who intuitively
understand the importance of shared ideas? If so, who are our
counterparts and how do they converse?

Lon Badgett

"There are two times in a man's life when he should not speculate: when
he can't afford it, and when he can." Mark Twain


Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <> -or- <>