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Evolution, Exchange and Coordination: Implications for Organizational Communication
Unformatted Document Text:  Evolution, Exchange and Coordination 13 would have emerged as an effective vehicle for in-group upward mobility (Henrich & Gil-White, 2001. p. 168). Specifically, the value of deference as an exchange commodity, would have provided group “models […] an extra incentive to [compete, or] out-excel each other” (p. 168). Of particular importance though, these prestige-deference dynamics would have facilitated exchange coordination in large groups by allowing group members to copy the sorts of activities and behaviors that lead to favorable exchanges, in accordance with others’ patterns of deference. More specifically, this preference for copying behavior would have been favored by natural selection because it eliminates direct social learning start-up costs, through the efficient transmission of information about others. Such information would have been of value to group members aspiring toward greater profitable exchanges with others. On the other hand, because of the deference gains associated with creating benefits for other group members, humans’ “quest for social status [i.e., prestige] [likely became] a great spur to cultural innovation” (Wright, 2000. p. 26). Innovations among humans are likely to have always centered upon improving the sorts of resources (i.e., goods and services) best suited for human exchange and survival in a given ecological environment. However, they certainly also needed to involve the development of social technologies or prescriptions for the coordination of exchanges around novel resources. And, over human history, these social technologies have indeed kept pace with ever-growing and increasingly complex networks of human exchange. Language emerges as the quintessential exchange coordination mechanism in humans (e.g., see Pinker, 1994, 1997) because of its facility in creating common knowledge, which invariably reduces coordination costs in exchange. Ultimately, language made even more complex social technologies (e.g., written records; currency) for exchange coordination possible. In turn, the normative (e.g., Axelrod, 1986) and later codified (e.g., laws) prescriptions for human behavior that underscore moral systems (e.g., Alexander, 1987) could have emerged as mechanisms for regulating equitable exchange (i.e., as “anti-cheating technologies”) in complex societies, where “people exchange goods and services with people they don’t see on a regular basis (if at all)” (Wright, 2000. p. 24). On the other hand, coordination of exchange technologies like division of labor, capital investment, and centralized planning and administration have always appeared in groups living in resource rich environments (i.e., with valued commodities to exchange; Wright, 2000). These particular social technologies all predated the Industrial Revolution and the writings of early economists like Smith, or classical organizational theorists like Taylor, Weber and Fayol, by many millennia (e.g., see Wright, 2000). Contrary to what most organizational behavior textbooks seem to suggest (e.g., Morgan, 1986), those scholars merely formalized organizing principles processes that pre-literate cultures have long drawn upon to coordinate complex resource exchange networks. Throughout history, innovations were likely transmitted through ‘memes,’ or units of information (Dawkins, 1976), that could compete against other ideas for the greatest attainable nonzero sum outcomes

Authors: Teboul, JC. Bruno. and Cole, Tim.
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Evolution, Exchange and Coordination
13
would have emerged as an effective vehicle for in-group upward mobility (Henrich & Gil-White, 2001. p.
168). Specifically, the value of deference as an exchange commodity, would have provided group
“models […] an extra incentive to [compete, or] out-excel each other” (p. 168). Of particular importance
though, these prestige-deference dynamics would have facilitated exchange coordination in large groups
by allowing group members to copy the sorts of activities and behaviors that lead to favorable exchanges,
in accordance with others’ patterns of deference. More specifically, this preference for copying behavior
would have been favored by natural selection because it eliminates direct social learning start-up costs,
through the efficient transmission of information about others. Such information would have been of
value to group members aspiring toward greater profitable exchanges with others.
On the other hand, because of the deference gains associated with creating benefits for other
group members, humans’ “quest for social status [i.e., prestige] [likely became] a great spur to cultural
innovation” (Wright, 2000. p. 26). Innovations among humans are likely to have always centered upon
improving the sorts of resources (i.e., goods and services) best suited for human exchange and survival in
a given ecological environment. However, they certainly also needed to involve the development of social
technologies or prescriptions for the coordination of exchanges around novel resources. And, over human
history, these social technologies have indeed kept pace with ever-growing and increasingly complex
networks of human exchange. Language emerges as the quintessential exchange coordination mechanism
in humans (e.g., see Pinker, 1994, 1997) because of its facility in creating common knowledge, which
invariably reduces coordination costs in exchange. Ultimately, language made even more complex social
technologies (e.g., written records; currency) for exchange coordination possible. In turn, the normative
(e.g., Axelrod, 1986) and later codified (e.g., laws) prescriptions for human behavior that underscore
moral systems (e.g., Alexander, 1987) could have emerged as mechanisms for regulating equitable
exchange (i.e., as “anti-cheating technologies”) in complex societies, where “people exchange goods and
services with people they don’t see on a regular basis (if at all)” (Wright, 2000. p. 24). On the other hand,
coordination of exchange technologies like division of labor, capital investment, and centralized planning
and administration have always appeared in groups living in resource rich environments (i.e., with valued
commodities to exchange; Wright, 2000). These particular social technologies all predated the Industrial
Revolution and the writings of early economists like Smith, or classical organizational theorists like
Taylor, Weber and Fayol, by many millennia (e.g., see Wright, 2000). Contrary to what most
organizational behavior textbooks seem to suggest (e.g., Morgan, 1986), those scholars merely formalized
organizing principles processes that pre-literate cultures have long drawn upon to coordinate complex
resource exchange networks.
Throughout history, innovations were likely transmitted through ‘memes,’ or units of information
(Dawkins, 1976), that could compete against other ideas for the greatest attainable nonzero sum outcomes


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