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Evolution, Exchange and Coordination: Implications for Organizational Communication
Unformatted Document Text:  Evolution, Exchange and Coordination 12 groups. To this end, we will review arguments explaining what might have favored exchange coordination at a broader group or societal level. Coordination for Exchange 8 As the exchange between two parties is coordinated through the reciprocation of a previously conferred benefit, reciprocity essentially serves as its own coordination mechanism. Assumed in the exchange equation are survival and reproductive coordination costs. However, while supportive designs like the ability to differentiate between prospective exchange partners based upon relational history (i.e., through social learning) might have kept exchange coordination costs in check in recurring one-on-one exchanges, other, more functional designs would likely have emerged for exchange coordination in the larger hunter-gatherer collectives which characterized our EEA. We have already briefly articulated how the ability to differentiate between others, based upon perceived common interests, might have been selected for to support reciprocity as a domain-specific design. This adaptation might have been especially functional in helping humans cut down on partner investment start-up costs (i.e., the energy expended in locating a partner with worthwhile resources), and would have allowed hominids more time to engage in exchange with multiple partners simultaneously. And yet, while the ability to engage in in- group/out-group differentiation might have facilitated the screening for and prediction of favorable exchanges, it alone would not have resolved the problem of cost associated with having to discriminate among multiple potentially favorable in-group partners. This within-group exchange coordination, some scholars have argued, was accomplished largely because of the “improved learning efficiencies” associated with copying or modeling behavior in prestige and deference hierarchies (Henrich & Gil- White, 2001. p. 167). Prestige, innovation and memes Recently, several scholars have argued that prestige and deference hierarchies in hunter-gatherer societies evolved to save humans the costs associated with rank-ordering neighbors based solely upon direct exchange experience (e.g., Henrich & Gil-White, 2001). These authors argue that another perhaps more plausible explanation for the emergence of prestige hierarchies during our EEA can be gleaned from a close examination of the deference dynamics they engender. Prestige hierarchies are likely to have evolved in hominids, as group members began to differentiate based upon their ability to extend valuable benefits to other members on a consistent basis. Those equipped with the greatest skills at helping the group overcome recurring ecological problems (e.g., hunting, protecting the group) would necessarily have received from others preferential access to desirable resources (e.g., mates, choice food, shelter). Deference to more valuable members of the group would thus have emerged as a resource in reciprocation. On the other hand, because prestige “brings fitness enhancing deferential clients,” the copying of successful group models (i.e., successful others)

Authors: Teboul, JC. Bruno. and Cole, Tim.
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Evolution, Exchange and Coordination
12
groups. To this end, we will review arguments explaining what might have favored exchange
coordination at a broader group or societal level.
Coordination for Exchange
8
As the exchange between two parties is coordinated through the reciprocation of a previously
conferred benefit, reciprocity essentially serves as its own coordination mechanism. Assumed in the
exchange equation are survival and reproductive coordination costs. However, while supportive designs
like the ability to differentiate between prospective exchange partners based upon relational history (i.e.,
through social learning) might have kept exchange coordination costs in check in recurring one-on-one
exchanges, other, more functional designs would likely have emerged for exchange coordination in the
larger hunter-gatherer collectives which characterized our EEA. We have already briefly articulated how
the ability to differentiate between others, based upon perceived common interests, might have been
selected for to support reciprocity as a domain-specific design. This adaptation might have been
especially functional in helping humans cut down on partner investment start-up costs (i.e., the energy
expended in locating a partner with worthwhile resources), and would have allowed hominids more time
to engage in exchange with multiple partners simultaneously. And yet, while the ability to engage in in-
group/out-group differentiation might have facilitated the screening for and prediction of favorable
exchanges, it alone would not have resolved the problem of cost associated with having to discriminate
among multiple potentially favorable in-group partners. This within-group exchange coordination, some
scholars have argued, was accomplished largely because of the “improved learning efficiencies”
associated with copying or modeling behavior in prestige and deference hierarchies (Henrich & Gil-
White, 2001. p. 167).
Prestige, innovation and memes
Recently, several scholars have argued that prestige and deference hierarchies in hunter-gatherer
societies evolved to save humans the costs associated with rank-ordering neighbors based solely upon
direct exchange experience (e.g., Henrich & Gil-White, 2001). These authors argue that another perhaps
more plausible explanation for the emergence of prestige hierarchies during our EEA can be gleaned from
a close examination of the deference dynamics they engender.
Prestige hierarchies are likely to have evolved in hominids, as group members began to
differentiate based upon their ability to extend valuable benefits to other members on a consistent basis.
Those equipped with the greatest skills at helping the group overcome recurring ecological problems
(e.g., hunting, protecting the group) would necessarily have received from others preferential access to
desirable resources (e.g., mates, choice food, shelter). Deference to more valuable members of the group
would thus have emerged as a resource in reciprocation. On the other hand, because prestige “brings
fitness enhancing deferential clients,” the copying of successful group models (i.e., successful others)


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