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Cooperation vs. Competition
In a time of accelerated and massive change, when conventional resources are quickly being depleted, cooperative effort is needed to navigate the “rapids of change.”
Cooperation, or co-operation is the practice of individuals or larger societal entities working in common with mutually agreed-upon goals and possibly methods, instead of working separately in competition, and in which the success of one is dependent and contingent upon the success of another.
However, co-operation may be coerced (forced) or voluntary (freely chosen), and consequently individuals and groups might co-operate even although they have almost nothing in common qua interests or goals. Examples of that can be found in market trade, military wars, families, workplaces, schools and prisons, and more generally any institution or organization of which individuals are part (out of own choice, by law, or forced).
Cooperation vs. competition
While cooperation is the antithesis of competition, the need or desire to compete with others is a common impetus that motivates individuals to organize into a group and cooperate with each other in order to form a stronger competitive force.
Cooperation in many areas such as farming and housing may be in the form of a cooperative or, alternately, in the form of a conventional business.
Many people support cooperation as the ideal form of management of human affairs. In terms of individuals obtaining goods and services, rather than resorting to theft or confiscation, they may cooperate by trading with each other or by altruistic sharing.
Certain forms of cooperation are illegal in some jurisdictions because they alter the nature of access by others to economic or other resources. Thus, cooperation in the form of cartels or price-fixing may be illegal.
A few mechanisms have been suggested for the appearance of cooperation between humans or in natural system.
The Prisoner's Dilemma
Even if all members of a group would benefit if all cooperate, individual self-interest may not favor cooperation. The prisoner's dilemma codifies this problem and has been the subject of much research, both theoretical and experimental. Results from experimental economics show that humans often act more cooperatively than strict self-interest would seem to dictate.
One reason for this may be that if the prisoner's dilemma situation is repeated (the iterated prisoner's dilemma), it allows non-cooperation to be punished more, and cooperation to be rewarded more, than the single-shot version of the problem would suggest. It has been suggested that this is one reason for the evolution of complex emotional and social behavior in higher animals.
Another reason might be that humans are by nature socially co-operative beings, who, at least as infants, and usually thereafter, cannot survive without co-operating - although with maturation they gain much more choice about the kinds of co-operation they wish to have.
There are four main conditions that tend to be necessary for cooperative behavior to develop between two individuals:
An overlap in desires
• A chance of future encounters with the same individual
• Memory of past encounters with that individual
• A value associated with future outcomes
The Evolution of Cooperation, Robert Axelrod, Basic Books,
• The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins (1990), second edition -- includes two chapters about the evolution of cooperation,
• The Seven Challenges: A Workbook and Reader About Communicating More Cooperatively, Dennis Rivers, fourth edition, 2005 -- treats cooperation as a set of skills that can be improved.
• Herbert Gintis, Samuel Bowles, Robert T. Boyd, Ernst Fehr (eds.), Moral Sentiments and Material Interests: The Foundations of Cooperation in Economic Life (Economic Learning and Social Evolution). MIT 2005
• John McMurtry, "How Competition Goes Wrong." Journal of Applied Philosophy, 8(2): 200-210, 1991
Look up cooperation in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
• PDF The Cooperation Project: Objectives, Accomplishments, and Proposals [rheingold.com Howard Rheingold's project with Institute for the Future.
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