Meta Collab

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Pepper - I moved your entry -[“Collaboration may be instinctive and selected-for in evolutionary terms because it succeeds." . . . That is cart before horse. . . There’s a fair way to go I think. Pepper [[User:150.203.2.85|150.203.2.85]] 07:14, 12 February 2006 (UTC)]- to [[Talk:Collaboration|collaboration's discussion page]] as it seemed to be addressing collaboration theory more generally than just in the realm of academia. An insightful comment to which I responded. [[User:Mark Elliott|Mark Elliott]] 22:07, 13 February 2006 (UTC)
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“Collaboration may be instinctive and selected-for in evolutionary terms because it succeeds. But we collaborate not because it succeeds, necessarily, but because it's fun. True collaboration, in hunting, in the arts and music, in sports, in raising children, is a joyous experience, and gives you a feeling that you cannot get from any individual pursuit. That feeling is the remarkable sense of collective accomplishment. We did that.
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That is cart before horse. The first sentence is right: it’s fun because nature has made it fun through differential reproduction. "We" didn’t do anything. Behaviours which are conducive to maximising individual genetic legacy will tend to be things we feel are fun. Copulation is the most primitive and outstanding example but the pleasures of raising children and cooperating with others are pleasures because nature made them so. Crudely put, if they weren’t pleasures (ie release serotonin or whatever it is into the brain) we wouldn’t do them (as much) and we wouldn’t be here. “We” did nothing for this.
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I wonder if a broader context is missing from these hopes for a theory of collaboration. For example, restricting the biology to us is very narrow. The animal and plant kingdoms are rife with symbiotic organisms and among animals intra-species cooperation is normal. Employees, economics – perhaps a trifle parochial for the context of a general theory? Think of armies, nations.
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I don’t know what the distinction between cooperation and collaboration is. Do the bacteria in my gut collaborate or cooperate? I looked at the Wikipedia entry and am not enlightened.
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It seems to me that cooperation (or collaboration) is one of three general modes of interaction: competition, cooperation, and coercion. It seems to me that all three are pervasive, operating at the macro level (lions, daffodils), the micro level (germs, blood cells), and at the molecular level within living cells (viruses, hormones). It seems to me that there are no other modes of interaction.
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Further, it seems to me that of the three competition is paramount, that the other two serve and moderate competition, that competition may occur without the other two but the other two cannot occur without competition being present. For example you coerce (say, point a pistol) in order to extract something (money, sex) that will give you competitive advantage. For example you cooperate (say, in a fishermen’s coop) in order to better compete (in the fishing industry).
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Those personal peregrinations (which I have posted to the cooperation and competition Wikipedia sites in the hope of finding someone else who might have discussed them) are the raw outline of a general theory of interaction. A subdivision of it would be a general theory of human interaction and a subdivision of that would be a theory of cooperation – but if I am right it looks like cooperation can’t be really split off from competition and coercion.
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The recognition that cooperation is derived from Darwinian selection is an implicit recognition that competition is playing a role but coercion seems to be forgotten.
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From the two links given at the end of the entry, a few comments…
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From http://www.children.smartlibrary.org/NewInterface/segment.cfm?segment=2519
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“Wood and Gray say that current collaboration theory suggests that a convener must be able to identify stakeholders and induce them to participate.”
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“What is the basis of the convener's influence?”
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The general tells the artillery and the infantry to collaborate. The general thinks that will help him win. His basis is coercive.
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“Wood and Gray say that the articles reviewed confirm the basic assumption that stakeholders collaborate in order to reduce complexity and uncertainty to managable proportions.”
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The infantry and artillery collaborate because that way they think they’ll win and because the general might court-martial them. “Complexity and uncertainty” is just waffle. All cooperation will be seeking some sort of a win. The word “win” is revealing: it implies a competition.
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“Wood and Gray say their review shows that it is difficult to separate the stakeholders' self-interest and the problem domain's collective interests.”
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Which confirms that competition is at the bottom of cooperation.
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From http://www.children.smartlibrary.org/NewInterface/segment.cfm?segment=2518
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Wood and Gray’s definition:
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“Collaboration occurs when a group of autonomous stakeholders of a problem domain engage in an interactive process, using shared rules, norms, and structures, to act or decide on issues related to that domain.”
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“Wood and Gray say that this definition is general enough to include a wide array of collaborative forms but specific enough to exclude others, such as blue ribbon panels that never meet, corporate mergers, and clubs that have no specific problem-solving objectives.”
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If it excludes some forms of collaboration then surely it couldn’t be suitable for a general theory, would it?
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There’s a fair way to go I think. – Pepper [[User:150.203.2.85|150.203.2.85]] 07:14, 12 February 2006 (UTC)

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