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Karl Weick on the value of cooperation and competition

I’ve been reading work of the renown organizational theorist Karl Weick this week. Here’s his fascinating conclusion at the end of “the social psychology of organizing” (1969):

… a dyad [relationship] in which members cooperate should be less satisfying than a dyad in which they alternate between cooperation (socialized action) and competition (individuated action). This position is clearly relevant to participation and human relations, since both place more emphasis on the development of cooperation than on the development of competition. Our position would suggest that greater involvement would occur in those situations where members where helped equally to compete and to cooperate.

Since he wrote this, I suspect there has been a societal shift to promoting competition as much, if not more, than cooperation. Regardless, the conclusion that alternating between the two mechanisms is better than a single one would still hold.

2 Responses to Karl Weick on the value of cooperation and competition

  • In the second edition on the same book there is a shift to Interact – double Interact- collective structure- means convergence leading to goal convergence so on – all essentially concluding shared goals is only post hoc to the fact of individual goals and that cooperation if at all is only in the service of individual goals.

  • Shahul — Thanks for the comment. It’s definitely interesting to trace the development of thought in this area.