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.

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