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Evolution, Exchange and Coordination: Implications for Organizational Communication
Unformatted Document Text:  Evolution, Exchange and Coordination 7 review of a few adaptations for social life most likely to be of interest to human communication scholars in general, and organizational theorists in particular. A view of communication, which draws from evolutionary scholarship, and which sees human interaction as functionally suited for ‘games’ of exchange and ‘games’ of coordination, is then proposed. In the last portion of this paper, emphasis will be given to a discussion of the mounting body of evidence for these adaptation and coordination mechanisms. The Human EEA Thus far, we have reviewed arguments proposing that a species’ physiological and psychological features constitute adaptive solutions to the selection pressures it faced in the environment of its evolutionary past. Humans’ EEA was largely defined by the presence of other humans, resources with strong potential “to enhance our inclusive fitness” (Krebs & Denton, 1997, p. 27). More specifically, paleontologists and evolutionary anthropologists have established that hominids’, Paleolithic EEA was characterized by a hunter-gatherer way of life in small clans of 30-50 members (Ehin, 1998; Nicholson, 1997a). The amount of time spent in these relatively small hunter-gatherer collectives – approximately 99%, or 10 million years, of our evolutionary history - was enough to facilitate the development of the information-processing mechanisms for social interaction we hold today (Cosmides & Tooby, 1997). Homo Sapiens began to disperse from Africa about 50,000 years ago, making genetic mutations harder to spread throughout the species population. And, large band gathering, which might have countered such dispersal, is characteristic of our more recent history; larger collectives only became sustainable with the accumulation of resources that the Agricultural Revolution impelled roughly 10,000 years ago (e.g., Trivers, 1971; Diamond, 1998). From the standpoint of genetic mutation, the number of human generations that actually live during a 10,000 year period is insufficient to support new adaptations (Nicholson, 1998). This argument suggests, “[…] our modern skulls house a stone age mind” (Cosmides & Tooby, 1997, Principle 5, par.5). 6 Over a period of millions of years then, “natural selection slowly sculpted the human brain, favoring circuitry that was good at solving the day-to-day problems of our hunter-gatherer ancestors – problems like finding mates, hunting animals, gathering plant foods, negotiating with friends, defending ourselves against aggression, raising children, choosing a good habitat, and so on. Those whose circuits were better designed for solving these problems left more children, and we are descended from them” Cosmides & Tooby, 1997, Principle 5, par. 3). In sum, circumstances characterized by problems such as these would have favored the development of information-processing mechanisms for intra-species collaboration.

Authors: Teboul, JC. Bruno. and Cole, Tim.
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Evolution, Exchange and Coordination
7
review of a few adaptations for social life most likely to be of interest to human communication scholars
in general, and organizational theorists in particular. A view of communication, which draws from
evolutionary scholarship, and which sees human interaction as functionally suited for ‘games’ of
exchange and ‘games’ of coordination, is then proposed. In the last portion of this paper, emphasis will be
given to a discussion of the mounting body of evidence for these adaptation and coordination
mechanisms.
The Human EEA
Thus far, we have reviewed arguments proposing that a species’ physiological and psychological
features constitute adaptive solutions to the selection pressures it faced in the environment of its
evolutionary past. Humans’ EEA was largely defined by the presence of other humans, resources with
strong potential “to enhance our inclusive fitness” (Krebs & Denton, 1997, p. 27). More specifically,
paleontologists and evolutionary anthropologists have established that hominids’, Paleolithic EEA was
characterized by a hunter-gatherer way of life in small clans of 30-50 members (Ehin, 1998; Nicholson,
1997a). The amount of time spent in these relatively small hunter-gatherer collectives – approximately
99%, or 10 million years, of our evolutionary history - was enough to facilitate the development of the
information-processing mechanisms for social interaction we hold today (Cosmides & Tooby, 1997).
Homo Sapiens began to disperse from Africa about 50,000 years ago, making genetic mutations harder to
spread throughout the species population. And, large band gathering, which might have countered such
dispersal, is characteristic of our more recent history; larger collectives only became sustainable with the
accumulation of resources that the Agricultural Revolution impelled roughly 10,000 years ago (e.g.,
Trivers, 1971; Diamond, 1998). From the standpoint of genetic mutation, the number of human
generations that actually live during a 10,000 year period is insufficient to support new adaptations
(Nicholson, 1998). This argument suggests, “[…] our modern skulls house a stone age mind” (Cosmides
& Tooby, 1997, Principle 5, par.5).
6
Over a period of millions of years then, “natural selection slowly sculpted the human brain,
favoring circuitry that was good at solving the day-to-day problems of our hunter-gatherer ancestors –
problems like finding mates, hunting animals, gathering plant foods, negotiating with friends, defending
ourselves against aggression, raising children, choosing a good habitat, and so on. Those whose circuits
were better designed for solving these problems left more children, and we are descended from them”
Cosmides & Tooby, 1997, Principle 5, par. 3). In sum, circumstances characterized by problems such as
these would have favored the development of information-processing mechanisms for intra-species
collaboration.


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