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Evolution, Exchange and Coordination: Implications for Organizational Communication
Unformatted Document Text:  Evolution, Exchange and Coordination 8 We propose that humans’ close contact and mutual interdependencies in hunter-gatherer societies facilitated the development of adaptations of particular interest to scholars of organizational communication; those enabling resource exchange, and those promoting intra-species coordination. Drawing on the work of evolutionary scholars and game theorists we argue that several cognitive vectors for intra-species collaboration took hold because they produced greater survival and reproductive benefits than costs for their originators. In sum, these adaptation clusters or domains became part of the modular architecture of the human mind because they were functional conduits for the creation of non zero-sum outcomes in intra-species collaboration. Adaptations for Resource Exchange One psychological adaptation that has received considerable attention from biologists and evolutionary psychologists alike, and which is foundational to our understanding of human communication is reciprocal altruism. Reciprocal Altruism A significant problem with early Darwinian thought lay in its inability to explain recurring acts of intra-species ‘altruism’ (e.g., sharing food; sacrificing oneself for the protection of others). Early evolutionary principles maintain that for an adaptation to take hold (i.e., spread throughout the population), a novel design must promote an organism’s ‘fitness’ (i.e., improve upon its ability to reproduce and survive). However, altruism actually involves enhancing another member’s fitness at a cost to one’s own (Hamilton, 1964). This is hardly a strategy natural selection would favor, or is it? Hamilton (1964) proposed that altruism can be selected for, through members of the same kin. Kin selection theory or ‘inclusive fitness’ theory suggests that the reproductive costs to an organism that altruism engenders can be offset by the reproductive benefits that are brought to kin members, provided of course, that the kin recipient shares the same “altruistic” design features as the kin ‘helper’ or ‘giver.’ Altruism is selected for precisely because it enhances an organism’s chances of spreading copies of itself (i.e., its design) through kinship. Examples of kin-related altruism abound throughout the animal kingdom (e.g., see Sherman, 1977; see also Hamilton, 1964). However, kin selection theory cannot account for the development of altruistic acts that occur beyond the confines of kinship. As non-relatives do not share design features with their benefactors, it becomes difficult to explain the prevalence of selfless behavior among organisms unrelated by kinship. Altruistic acts towards non-kin others cannot merely be ‘echoes’ of the altruistic programming developed specifically for same kin members, because benefactors discriminate among potential non-kin recipients. Several evolutionary biologists (e.g., Gouldner, 1960; Williams, 1966; Trivers, 1971; Axelrod & Hamilton, 1981; Axelrod, 1984) have tackled this second problem of altruism by proposing that

Authors: Teboul, JC. Bruno. and Cole, Tim.
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Evolution, Exchange and Coordination
8
We propose that humans’ close contact and mutual interdependencies in hunter-gatherer societies
facilitated the development of adaptations of particular interest to scholars of organizational
communication; those enabling resource exchange, and those promoting intra-species coordination.
Drawing on the work of evolutionary scholars and game theorists we argue that several cognitive vectors
for intra-species collaboration took hold because they produced greater survival and reproductive benefits
than costs for their originators. In sum, these adaptation clusters or domains became part of the modular
architecture of the human mind because they were functional conduits for the creation of non zero-sum
outcomes in intra-species collaboration.
Adaptations for Resource Exchange
One psychological adaptation that has received considerable attention from biologists and
evolutionary psychologists alike, and which is foundational to our understanding of human
communication is reciprocal altruism.
Reciprocal Altruism
A significant problem with early Darwinian thought lay in its inability to explain recurring acts of
intra-species ‘altruism’ (e.g., sharing food; sacrificing oneself for the protection of others). Early
evolutionary principles maintain that for an adaptation to take hold (i.e., spread throughout the
population), a novel design must promote an organism’s ‘fitness’ (i.e., improve upon its ability to
reproduce and survive). However, altruism actually involves enhancing another member’s fitness at a cost
to one’s own (Hamilton, 1964). This is hardly a strategy natural selection would favor, or is it?
Hamilton (1964) proposed that altruism can be selected for, through members of the same kin.
Kin selection theory or ‘inclusive fitness’ theory suggests that the reproductive costs to an organism that
altruism engenders can be offset by the reproductive benefits that are brought to kin members, provided
of course, that the kin recipient shares the same “altruistic” design features as the kin ‘helper’ or ‘giver.’
Altruism is selected for precisely because it enhances an organism’s chances of spreading copies of itself
(i.e., its design) through kinship. Examples of kin-related altruism abound throughout the animal kingdom
(e.g., see Sherman, 1977; see also Hamilton, 1964).
However, kin selection theory cannot account for the development of altruistic acts that occur
beyond the confines of kinship. As non-relatives do not share design features with their benefactors, it
becomes difficult to explain the prevalence of selfless behavior among organisms unrelated by kinship.
Altruistic acts towards non-kin others cannot merely be ‘echoes’ of the altruistic programming developed
specifically for same kin members, because benefactors discriminate among potential non-kin recipients.
Several evolutionary biologists (e.g., Gouldner, 1960; Williams, 1966; Trivers, 1971; Axelrod &
Hamilton, 1981; Axelrod, 1984) have tackled this second problem of altruism by proposing that


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