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Evolution, Exchange and Coordination: Implications for Organizational Communication
Unformatted Document Text:  Evolution, Exchange and Coordination 25 though not as extensive as most post-modernists would like, shows enormous unifying potential for the discipline. Granted though, much ‘retooling’ will be necessary. At the level of scholarship, an evolutionary perspective impels logical positivists to reconsider the causal mechanism underlying the communication phenomena they have long investigated. In this paper, we have demonstrated what such an exercise might look like for theorists concerned with investigating social exchange and uncertainty/information seeking processes. Social constructionists, in turn, will have to re-evaluate the latitude humans actually have in the social construction of reality (e.g., Berger & Luckmann, 1967). Indeed, an evolutionary view of human communication does not negate the possibility of meaning construction processes. However, it stresses that the sorts of psychological adaptations we all come equipped with circumscribe the range of meanings that we construct as a species. The environment we exist in, no doubt plays a role in this process by acting in concert with adaptations to produce meanings and behaviors that ultimately work to promote our self-interests. On the other hand though, given our current understanding of how the brain functions (e.g., Gazzaniga, 1998; Pinker, 1997, 2002) sense-making standards like ‘how do I know what I think until I see what I say,’ (see Weick in Bantz, 1989. p 237) will likely fall by the wayside, as what I think is in large measure beyond my awareness, what I say may have little bearing on what I think, and what I say, often does not correspond to what I do. Finally, critical theories will continue to weigh in on the question of equity in human-institutional exchange and coordination ‘games.’ Ultimately, we see these theories as valuable social technologies that can raise our awareness of exchange coordination practices that are not fully capitalizing on non-zero sum opportunities. However, we believe that evolutionary scholarship can help critical scholarship gain some perspective about the often-inevitable exchange imbalances that accrue from differential control over valuable resources. An evolutionary perspective also allows (organizational) communication scholars the opportunity to broaden their associations with other researchers, and to realize their own additional nonzero sum gains, through profitable collaborative exchanges. Specifically, a reorganization of our research efforts around adaptation clusters can allow scholars investigating seemingly disparate thematic areas to talk to each other. For example, mediation and Group Decision Support System scholars can now both discuss the common coordination of exchange mechanisms underlying their respective fields. Of equal importance though, this perspective has strong implications for how we organize our curricula. First, we have much to learn from other disciplines that are currently investigating human communication processes. New interdisciplinary programs could both help us regain some ground that we have lost to fields examining communication processes from an evolutionary perspective, while allowing us to participate more actively in the inevitable ‘conscilience’ (Wilson, 1998) between the natural and the social sciences. We believe that this convergence will occur with or without our discipline, so the

Authors: Teboul, JC. Bruno. and Cole, Tim.
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Evolution, Exchange and Coordination
25
though not as extensive as most post-modernists would like, shows enormous unifying potential for the
discipline. Granted though, much ‘retooling’ will be necessary.
At the level of scholarship, an evolutionary perspective impels logical positivists to reconsider the
causal mechanism underlying the communication phenomena they have long investigated. In this paper,
we have demonstrated what such an exercise might look like for theorists concerned with investigating
social exchange and uncertainty/information seeking processes. Social constructionists, in turn, will have
to re-evaluate the latitude humans actually have in the social construction of reality (e.g., Berger &
Luckmann, 1967). Indeed, an evolutionary view of human communication does not negate the possibility
of meaning construction processes. However, it stresses that the sorts of psychological adaptations we all
come equipped with circumscribe the range of meanings that we construct as a species. The environment
we exist in, no doubt plays a role in this process by acting in concert with adaptations to produce
meanings and behaviors that ultimately work to promote our self-interests. On the other hand though,
given our current understanding of how the brain functions (e.g., Gazzaniga, 1998; Pinker, 1997, 2002)
sense-making standards like ‘how do I know what I think until I see what I say,’ (see Weick in Bantz,
1989. p 237) will likely fall by the wayside, as what I think is in large measure beyond my awareness,
what I say may have little bearing on what I think, and what I say, often does not correspond to what I do.
Finally, critical theories will continue to weigh in on the question of equity in human-institutional
exchange and coordination ‘games.’ Ultimately, we see these theories as valuable social technologies that
can raise our awareness of exchange coordination practices that are not fully capitalizing on non-zero sum
opportunities. However, we believe that evolutionary scholarship can help critical scholarship gain some
perspective about the often-inevitable exchange imbalances that accrue from differential control over
valuable resources.
An evolutionary perspective also allows (organizational) communication scholars the opportunity
to broaden their associations with other researchers, and to realize their own additional nonzero sum
gains, through profitable collaborative exchanges. Specifically, a reorganization of our research efforts
around adaptation clusters can allow scholars investigating seemingly disparate thematic areas to talk to
each other. For example, mediation and Group Decision Support System scholars can now both discuss
the common coordination of exchange mechanisms underlying their respective fields.
Of equal importance though, this perspective has strong implications for how we organize our
curricula. First, we have much to learn from other disciplines that are currently investigating human
communication processes. New interdisciplinary programs could both help us regain some ground that we
have lost to fields examining communication processes from an evolutionary perspective, while allowing
us to participate more actively in the inevitable ‘conscilience’ (Wilson, 1998) between the natural and the
social sciences. We believe that this convergence will occur with or without our discipline, so the


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