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Evolution, Exchange and Coordination: Implications for Organizational Communication
Unformatted Document Text:  Evolution, Exchange and Coordination 1 Evolution, Exchange and Coordination: Implications for Organizational Communication “I think we have reason to believe that the mind is equipped with a battery of emotions, drives and faculties for reasoning and communicating, and that they have a common logic across cultures, are difficult to erase or redesign from scratch, were shaped by natural selection acting over the course of human evolution, and owe some of their basic design (and some of their variation) to information in the genome. This general picture is meant to embrace a variety of theories, present and future, and a range of foreseeable scientific discoveries” (Pinker, 2002. p. 73). “All thought draws life from contacts and exchanges.” (Braudel, 1981. p. 401). Introduction Scholarship emanating from the fields of anthropology, ethology, comparative zoology, primatology, ethnobiology, neuroscience, behavioral genetics, paleontology, and evolutionary psychology, has lent increasing support to the notion that human behavior is largely a function of specialized mental programming, developed during humans’ Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness (EEA), and designed to facilitate survival and reproduction (e.g., Tooby & Cosmides, 1992; see also Barkow, Cosmides, & Tooby, 1992; Hauser, 1996; Erlich, 2002; Cartwright, 2000; Pinker, 1997, 2002). The notion that humans are ‘hard wired’ with content-laden cognitive algorithms that shape behavioral choices challenges the very epistemic and ontological foundations of mainstream social scientific research (e.g., see Tooby & Cosmides, 1992) and calls for a re-evaluation of the major theory-building efforts of the past century. 1 Despite mounting evidence for bio-functional accounts for human behavior and for the apparent increasing ‘consilience’ (Wilson, 1998) between the natural and social sciences, the field of communication has remained alarmingly passive in acknowledging and responding to these paradigmatic challenges (e.g., see Kuhn, 1962). Indeed, a cursory search through the most popular academic databases to serve communication (e.g., EbscoHost, Comm Abstracts, Comm Search) reveals little awareness of the significance of this body of work in furthering our understanding of human communication. 2 In fact, and sadly, with rare exception (e.g., Capella, 1995), the only work that examines the effect of evolutionary processes on human communication originates outside of our discipline. For instance, biologists have begun to document the selective pressures involved in the development of communication as a signaling system (e.g., Hauser, 1996). In turn, closer to the traditional boundaries of our own discipline, relational scholars in psychology have begun to draw upon evolutionary frameworks in their theory-building efforts (Kenrick & Trost, 1997; Fletcher & Simpson, 2000; Zeifman & Hazan, 1997). And, management scholars, who have long alerted us to the emerging paradigm’s potential for fostering a “new understanding of the constraints and regularities of how we work” (Nicholson, 1997a, Conclusions: EP and contemporary organizational life, par. 1) have also begun to develop hybrid theories grounded in an

Authors: Teboul, JC. Bruno. and Cole, Tim.
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Evolution, Exchange and Coordination
1
Evolution, Exchange and Coordination: Implications for Organizational Communication
“I think we have reason to believe that the mind is equipped with a battery of emotions, drives and faculties for reasoning and
communicating, and that they have a common logic across cultures, are difficult to erase or redesign from scratch, were shaped
by natural selection acting over the course of human evolution, and owe some of their basic design (and some of their variation)
to information in the genome. This general picture is meant to embrace a variety of theories, present and future, and a range of
foreseeable scientific discoveries” (Pinker, 2002. p. 73).

“All thought draws life from contacts and exchanges.” (Braudel, 1981. p. 401).
Introduction
Scholarship emanating from the fields of anthropology, ethology, comparative zoology,
primatology, ethnobiology, neuroscience, behavioral genetics, paleontology, and evolutionary
psychology, has lent increasing support to the notion that human behavior is largely a function of
specialized mental programming, developed during humans’ Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness
(EEA), and designed to facilitate survival and reproduction (e.g., Tooby & Cosmides, 1992; see also
Barkow, Cosmides, & Tooby, 1992; Hauser, 1996; Erlich, 2002; Cartwright, 2000; Pinker, 1997, 2002).
The notion that humans are ‘hard wired’ with content-laden cognitive algorithms that shape behavioral
choices challenges the very epistemic and ontological foundations of mainstream social scientific research
(e.g., see Tooby & Cosmides, 1992) and calls for a re-evaluation of the major theory-building efforts of
the past century.
1
Despite mounting evidence for bio-functional accounts for human behavior and for the
apparent increasing ‘consilience’ (Wilson, 1998) between the natural and social sciences, the field of
communication has remained alarmingly passive in acknowledging and responding to these paradigmatic
challenges (e.g., see Kuhn, 1962). Indeed, a cursory search through the most popular academic databases
to serve communication (e.g., EbscoHost, Comm Abstracts, Comm Search) reveals little awareness of the
significance of this body of work in furthering our understanding of human communication.
2
In fact, and
sadly, with rare exception (e.g., Capella, 1995), the only work that examines the effect of evolutionary
processes on human communication originates outside of our discipline. For instance, biologists have
begun to document the selective pressures involved in the development of communication as a signaling
system (e.g., Hauser, 1996). In turn, closer to the traditional boundaries of our own discipline, relational
scholars in psychology have begun to draw upon evolutionary frameworks in their theory-building efforts
(Kenrick & Trost, 1997; Fletcher & Simpson, 2000; Zeifman & Hazan, 1997). And, management
scholars, who have long alerted us to the emerging paradigm’s potential for fostering a “new
understanding of the constraints and regularities of how we work” (Nicholson, 1997a, Conclusions: EP
and contemporary organizational life, par. 1) have also begun to develop hybrid theories grounded in an


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