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Balancing Cooperation and Competition in Human Groups: The Role of Emotional Algorithms and Evolution

Christoph H. Loch, D. Charles Galunic and Susan Schneider
Managerial and Decision Economics
Vol. 27, No. 2/3, Evolutionary Psychology and Management (Mar. - May, 2006), pp. 217-233
Published by: Wiley
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25151433
Page Count: 17
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Balancing Cooperation and Competition in Human Groups: The Role of Emotional Algorithms and Evolution
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Abstract

We examine emotional algorithms and their role in a fundamental dilemma that confronts human groups-whether actors should take care of 'me' (compete) or take care of 'we' (cooperate). We argue that human emotions, triggered in algorithmic fashion through four common, although culturally specified, mechanisms, powerfully direct humans to compete or cooperate. Drawing on evolutionary psychology, we first define and characterize these hardwired emotional algorithms, presenting evidence for their independent influence. Their regulatory influence on human groups, however, can only be appreciated once we examine them as a system. We show how, as a system, these algorithms help explain the dynamic balance that members of human groups can (and often must) achieve between competition and cooperation. We derive three propositions regarding how these algorithms play out in groups. We suggest that understanding these dynamics can help leaders better manage cooperation and competition in organizational groups.

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