Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. I have weaknesses. One is a
Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
I have weaknesses.
One is a pathetic inability to suck up to the influential, the wealthy and the powerful.
If I try to do it, what emerges is manifestly obvious piffle, so much so that even the biggest, most odious egos can see through it.
You, though, may be better at it. And you may need to hone your skills to even more exalted levels.
It’s entitled The Dynamics of Men’s Cooperation and Social Status In a Small-Scale Society.
One mere sentence from its findings might make you either say “well, of course, everyone knows that” or it might make you throw several shoes straight through a window:
We show that (i) higher-status individuals gain more cooperation partners, and (ii) individuals gain status by cooperating with individuals of higher status than themselves.
Yes, it really is who you know, not what you might have between your ears.
I confess to being a touch fanciful here.
This research looked at 8 years of data obtained from observing the forager-horticulturalist Tsimané people of Bolivia.
The researchers wanted the participants to rank their fellow men as to their levels of influence and their degrees of respect.
They also looked at the collaborations that occurred between particular individuals.
It may seem, though, that nothing is different in your own world.
It may seem to the lay eye that this research confirms every depressing notion about society in general and work organizations in particular.
Suck up to the right person, get to work with them and your status and career will be propelled to the heavens.
These researchers, however, offered a touch more nuance.
For example this, from lead author Christopher von Rueden:
The finding that status depends on cooperation provides insight into why human societies, particularly small-scale societies like the Tsimané, are relatively egalitarian compared to other primates.
You see, things really could be worse. We humans are relatively fair.
At heart, we need to cooperate because it may provide us with mutual benefits, some of which help us to survive and prosper.
You, for example, do the work. The boss you sucked up to takes most of the credit, but remembers the fact that you did the work and offers you future advancement.
The researchers say that the potential for mutually beneficial cooperation may diminish as a society gets bigger.
Money might just contribute to that. Said von Rueden:
Individuals with more wealth can lose incentive to cooperate with the non-wealthy outside of more market-based or coercive transactions.
You don’t say.
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