Learning Change

Learning Change Project: 8 Blogs, +7200 Readings

Posts Tagged ‘cooperation

The Evolutionary Advantage of Cooperation

The present study asks how cooperation and consequently structure can emerge in many different evolutionary contexts.  Cooperation, here, is a persistent behavioural pattern of individual entities pooling and sharing resources. Examples are: individual cells forming multicellular systems whose various parts pool and share nutrients; pack animals pooling and sharing prey; families firms, or modern nation states pooling and sharing financial resources. In these examples, each atomistic decision, at a point in time, of the better-off entity to cooperate poses a puzzle: the better-off entity will book an immediate net loss — why should it cooperate? For each example, specific explanations have been put forward. Here we point out a very general mechanism — a sufficient null model — whereby cooperation can evolve. The mechanism is based the following insight: natural growth processes tend to be multiplicative. In multiplicative growth, ergodicity is broken in such a way that fluctuations have a net-negative effect on the time-average growth rate, although they have no effect on the growth rate of the ensemble average. Pooling and sharing resources reduces fluctuations, which leaves ensemble averages unchanged but — contrary to common perception — increases the time-average growth rate for each cooperator.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

July 1, 2015 at 12:27 pm

Posted in Cooperation, Evolution

Tagged with ,

Organizing in the Age of Competition, Cooperation, and Collaboration

The purpose of this article is to describe how organizations have evolved across three periods of modern economic history. These periods can be called the age of competition, age of cooperation, and age of collaboration. The major organizational forms that appeared in each of the three eras, including their capabilities and limitations, are discussed. Across the eras of competition, cooperation, and collaboration, managers and organization designers changed their views about the use of resources. During the age of competition, managers believed it was important to control resources through ownership. Whatever resources the firm needs, it is the management’s job to acquire those resources for use by the firm. During the age of cooperation, managers’ resource strategies expanded to include the practice of “link and leverage.” Here the belief is that the firm need not own all of its resources; it can also link to other firms and thereby gain access to external resources. Finally, during the age of collaboration, managers learned the value of sharing resources. By forming resource commons that multiple parties can share, organizations in certain kinds of situations can achieve increasing returns on their use of resources.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

June 15, 2015 at 11:09 am

Genetic and Cultural Evolution of Cooperation

Current thinking in evolutionary biology holds that competition among individuals is the key to understanding natural selection. When competition exists, it is obvious that conflict arises; the emergence of cooperation, however, is less straightforward and calls for in-depth analysis. Much research is now focused on defining and expanding the evolutionary models of cooperation. Understanding the mechanisms of cooperation has relevance for fields other than biology. Anthropology, economics, mathematics, political science, primatology, and psychology are adopting the evolutionary approach and developing analogies based on it. Similarly, biologists use elements of economic game theory and analyze cooperation in “evolutionary games.” Despite this, exchanges between researchers in these different disciplines have been limited. Seeking to fill this gap, the 90th Dahlem Workshop was convened. This book, which grew out of that meeting, addresses such topics as emotions in human cooperation, reciprocity, biological markets, cooperation and conflict in multicellularity, genomic and intercellular cooperation, the origins of human cooperation, and the cultural evolution of cooperation; the emphasis is on open questions and future research areas. The book makes a significant contribution to a growing process of interdisciplinary cross-fertilization on this issue.

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Moral Origins: The Evolution of Virtue, Altruism, and Shame

From the age of Darwin to the present day, biologists have been grappling with the origins of our moral sense. Why, if the human instinct to survive and reproduce is “selfish,” do people engage in self-sacrifice, and even develop ideas like virtue and shame to justify that altruism? Many theories have been put forth, some emphasizing the role of nepotism, others emphasizing the advantages of reciprocation or group selection effects. But evolutionary anthropologist Christopher Boehm finds existing explanations lacking, and in “Moral Origins, “he offers an elegant new theory. Tracing the development of altruism and group social control over 6 million years, Boehm argues that our moral sense is a sophisticated defense mechanism that enables individuals to survive and thrive in groups. One of the biggest risks of group living is the possibility of being punished for our misdeeds by those around us. Bullies, thieves, free-riders, and especially psychopaths–those who make it difficult for others to go about their lives–are the most likely to suffer this fate. Getting by requires getting along, and this social type of selection, Boehm shows, singles out altruists for survival. This selection pressure has been unique in shaping human nature, and it bred the first stirrings of conscience in the human species. Ultimately, it led to the fully developed sense of virtue and shame that we know today. A groundbreaking exploration of the evolution of human generosity and cooperation, “Moral Origins” offers profound insight into humanity’s moral past–and how it might shape our moral future.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

April 6, 2015 at 1:40 pm

Cooperation and Cognition in Wikipedia

The new socio-technological systems of the internet involve complex collaborative behaviors, of which Wikis in general are a particular successful case, and especially Wikipedia. This encyclopedia has created and harnessed new social and work dynamics, which can provide insight into specific aspects of cognition, as amplified by a multitude of editors and their ping-pong style of editing, spatial and time flexibility within unique technology-community fostering features. Wikipedia’s motto “The Free Encyclopedia That Anyone Can Edit” is analyzed to reveal human, technological and value actors within a theoretical context of distributed cognition, cooperation and technological agency. As this work is part of an emergent field of Wiki Studies, with an interdisciplinary approach, three avenues of inquiry are used to research cooperation and cognition in Wikipedia articles. These studies contribute to constructing an ecology of the article, a vision of humanities bottom-up, and a better understanding of cooperation and cognition within socio-technological networks.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

August 26, 2014 at 11:12 am

The Interplay of Cognition and Cooperation

Cooperation often involves behaviours that reduce immediate payoffs for actors. Delayed benefits have often been argued to pose problems for the evolution of cooperation because learning such contingencies may be difficult as partners may cheat in return. Therefore, the ability to achieve stable cooperation has often been linked to a species’ cognitive abilities, which is in turn linked to the evolution of increasingly complex central nervous systems. However, in their famous 1981 paper, Axelrod and Hamilton stated that in principle even bacteria could play a tit-for-tat strategy in an iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma. While to our knowledge this has not been documented, interspecific mutualisms are present in bacteria, plants and fungi. Moreover, many species which have evolved large brains in complex social environments lack convincing evidence in favour of reciprocity. What conditions must be fulfilled so that organisms with little to no brainpower, including plants and single-celled organisms, can, on average, gain benefits from interactions with partner species? On the other hand, what conditions favour the evolution of large brains and flexible behaviour, which includes the use of misinformation and so on? These questions are critical, as they begin to address why cognitive complexity would emerge when ‘simple’ cooperation is clearly sufficient in some cases. This paper spans the literature from bacteria to humans in our search for the key variables that link cooperation and deception to cognition.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

July 21, 2014 at 9:18 pm

Communication and Collective Action: Language and the Evolution of Human Cooperation

All social species face various “collective action problems” or “social dilemmas,” meaning problems in achieving cooperating when the best move from a selfish point of view yields an inferior collective outcome. Compared to most other species, humans are very good at solving these challenges, suggesting that something rather peculiar about human sociality facilitates collective action. This article proposes that language — the uniquely human faculty of symbolic communication — fundamentally alters the possibilities for collective action. I explore these issues using simple game-theoretic models and empirical evidence (both ethnographic and experimental). I review several standard mechanisms for the evolution of cooperationmutualism, reciprocal altruism, indirect reciprocity and signaling — highlighting their limitations when it comes to explaining large-group cooperation, as well as the ways in which language helps overcome those limitations. Language facilitates complex coordination and is essential for establishing norms governing production efforts and distribution of collective goods that motivate people to cooperate voluntarily in large groups. Language also significantly lowers the cost of detecting and punishing “free riders,” thus greatly enhancing the scope and power of standard conditional reciprocity. In addition, symbolic communication encourages new forms of collectively beneficial displays and reputation management — what evolutionists often term “signaling” and “indirect reciprocity.” Thus, language reinforces existing forces that favor the evolution of cooperation, as well as creating new opportunities for collective action not available even to our closest primate relatives.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

July 3, 2014 at 2:06 pm

Cooperative conditions and Group Metacognition

This study examined the task-related talk, reading comprehension, and metacognition of third-grade students over a 4 week period. A total of 219 students from eight classrooms participated. Classrooms were randomly assigned to the “reward” or the “strategy” condition. The reward condition encouraged cooperation through the use of team recognition based on individual performance on weekly quizzes. The strategy condition was designed to direct discussions toward substantive task content. Two groups from each classroom were observed prior to intervention and at the end of each week. The comprehension measure was comprised of four subtests: prediction, inference,main idea, and summarization. The metacognition measure assessed awareness of evaluation, planning, regulation, and conditional knowledge. Results indicated that the general structure of task-talk changed very little during the treatment phase of the study but that discussions in the strategy condition were focused more toward the facts, concepts, and strategies associated with their cooperative tasks. Students in this condition also performed significantly better on all comprehension subtests and one metacognition subtest. Discussion examines the (a) stability of the structure of peer-group talk, (b) efficacy of intentionally focusing peer-group discussions toward important lesson content, and (c) role such talk plays in learning.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

June 11, 2014 at 1:38 pm

Culture and Cooperation

Does the cultural background influence the success with which genetically unrelated individuals cooperate in social dilemma situations? In this paper, we provide an answer by analysing the data of Herrmann et al., who studied cooperation and punishment in 16 subject pools from six different world cultures. We use analysis of variance to disentangle the importance of cultural background relative to individual heterogeneity and group level differences in cooperation. We find that culture has a substantial influence on the extent of cooperation, in addition to individual heterogeneity and group-level differences identified by previous research. The significance of this result is that cultural background has a substantial influence on cooperation in otherwise identical environments. This is particularly true in the presence of punishment opportunities.

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Read also: Culture and the evolution of human cooperation

Written by Giorgio Bertini

June 10, 2014 at 1:33 pm

Posted in Cooperation, Culture

Tagged with ,

Coordination of Cooperative Work through Artifacts and the Practice of Stigmergy

Researchers in the field of Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) have increasingly come to realize that artifacts play an important role in the coordination of cooperative work. This master thesis is an attempt to make an inquiry into the nature of artifacts and the coordinative practices employing them. Based on concepts of process, practice, materiality, context and the temporal nature of meaning, an attempted is made to develop an understanding of the coordinative roles of artifacts that take into consideration the complex interplay of coordinative practices and the material forms of artifacts.

Turning to the design implications of our inquiry we could perhaps suggest that we are not designing things when we are designing (digital) artifacts for the support of cooperative work, we are designing social and material practices. Along these lines, we could suggest that the successful design of digital artifacts for the support of cooperative work is at least equally dependant on the design of practices as on, for instance, the design of electronic circuits. Looking ahead, we could note that it could perhaps be of interest to explore the concepts of stigmergy and articulation work in relation to ubiquitous computing, with the purpose of informing the design of computer support for cooperative work.

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Read also: Practices of Stigmergy in Architectural Work

The Logic of Practices of Stigmergy – Representational Artifacts in Architectural Design

Written by Giorgio Bertini

May 14, 2014 at 3:36 pm

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