Seeking the comparative advantage: The dynamics of individual cooperation in single vs. multiple team environments



Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 2 ed., vol. 100, pp. 145-159, July (3rd Quarter/Summer) 2006


Social dilemma studies predict that people will withhold cooperation from their teammates. Small group studies show that competition between teams increases cooperation among teammates. In this study, the two theories are integrated to show how performance comparisons with members of another team increase or decrease cooperation in an intra-team social dilemma. 111 MBA and undergraduate students participated in a laboratory experiment that Wnds that comparison of performance across competitive teams generates cooperation when the comparison is favorable. A computer simulation identiWes decisions processes, Wnding partial support for comparative information across teams acting to reinforce cooperation. It also indicates that personal consistency accounts for parts of the decision process. These processes operate in the form of a rule called Win-Stay/Lose-Revert.

Corinne Coen

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Weatherhead School of Management
Case Western Reserve University

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