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TMA World Viewpoint 11 Beyond Selfishness

Date post:22-Apr-2015
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  • 1. Beyond Selfishness
    TMA World Viewpoint
  • 2. Beyond Selfishness
    By Terence Brake - Head of Learning & Innovation, TMA World
    Occasionally, I come across a piece of writing that makes me want to punch the air and shout, Yes!
    That happened just recently when I read Professor Yochai Benklers article
    The Unselfish Gene
    in the July-August 2011 edition of the Harvard Business Review. What Professor Benkler does so well, is to counter the pervasive and pernicious view that we are all born selfish; that we are driven by a narrow rationality focused only on advancing our own material interests.
    My name is
  • 3. Beyond Selfishness
    I first met this view of humankind homo economicus many years ago in undergraduate economics classes.
    I remember telling my professor
    at the time that I thought that
    this was a highly reductionist
    and false assumption, and a
    highly crude platform on
    which to base economic theory.
    But what
    listens to
    undergraduate views?
  • 4. Beyond Selfishness
    One consequence of the self-interested rationality theory is that when building human systems we assume the worst of everyone.
    We develop incentive systems based
    simply on self-interest,
    the carrots and sticks approach.
    Professor Benkler gives a number of examples
    where self-interest doesnt adequately explain behavior
    Wikipedia, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and open source
    software like Apache.
    The Web is full of cooperative activities that offer
    little in terms of personal gain.
  • 5. Beyond Selfishness
    As well as common examples of minimally self-interested cooperation, Professor Benkler also points to growing empirical evidence that
    cooperation is not an aberration
    One interesting study, showed that in experiments about cooperative behavior, about 30% behave selfishly. About 50% systematically and predictably behave cooperatively. Some of them cooperate conditionally; they treat kindness with kindness and meanness with meanness. Others cooperate unconditionally, even when it comes at a personal cost. (The remaining 20% are unpredictable, sometimes choosing to cooperate and other times refusing to do so.) In no society examined under controlled conditions have the majority of
    people consistently behaved selfishly.
  • 6. Beyond Selfishness
    What this means is that most of our incentive systems based on rewards, punishments, and monitoring are optimized for only 30% of the population!
    We need systems that stimulate:
    intrinsic motivations
    shared sense of purpose
    This doesnt mean looking at the world through rose-colored spectacles; it means having a deeper, more complex, appreciation of human nature.
  • 7. To learn more about how TMA World can help your organization, please contact us at [email protected]
    or visit www.tmaworld.com/our_solutions.cfm
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