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Phylogenetic Footprints in Organizational Behavior

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  • Ulrich Witt
  • Georg Schwesinger

Abstract

An evolutionary tool kit is applied in this paper to explain how innate social behavior traits evolved in early human groups. These traits were adapted to the particular production requirements of the group in human phylogeny. They shaped the group members' attitudes towards contributing to the group's goals and towards other group members. We argue that these attitudes are still present in modern humans and leave their "phylogenetic footprints" also in present-day organizational life. We discuss the implications of this hypothesis for problems arising in firm organizations in relation to the coordination and motivation of organization members.

Suggested Citation

  • Ulrich Witt & Georg Schwesinger, 2012. "Phylogenetic Footprints in Organizational Behavior," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2012-17, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
  • Handle: RePEc:esi:evopap:2012-17
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ernst Fehr & Simon G├Ąchter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 159-181, Summer.
    2. Witt, Ulrich, 2008. "Observational learning, group selection, and societal evolution," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 4(01), pages 1-24, April.
    3. Mueller, Dennis C, 1972. "A Life Cycle Theory of the Firm," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 20(3), pages 199-219, July.
    4. Cordes, Christian & Richerson, Peter J. & Schwesinger, Georg, 2010. "How corporate cultures coevolve with the business environment: The case of firm growth crises and industry evolution," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 465-480, December.
    5. Robert E. Quinn & Kim Cameron, 1983. "Organizational Life Cycles and Shifting Criteria of Effectiveness: Some Preliminary Evidence," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 29(1), pages 33-51, January.
    6. Witt, Ulrich, 1998. "Imagination and leadership - The neglected dimension of an evolutionary theory of the firm," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 161-177, April.
    7. Henrich, Joseph & Boyd, Robert & Bowles, Samuel & Camerer, Colin & Fehr, Ernst & Gintis, Herbert (ed.), 2004. "Foundations of Human Sociality: Economic Experiments and Ethnographic Evidence from Fifteen Small-Scale Societies," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199262052.
    8. Burnham, Terence C., 2013. "Toward a neo-Darwinian synthesis of neoclassical and behavioral economics," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 90(S), pages 113-127.
    9. David E. M. Sappington, 1991. "Incentives in Principal-Agent Relationships," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 45-66, Spring.
    10. Wilson, David Sloan & Gowdy, John M., 2013. "Evolution as a general theoretical framework for economics and public policy," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 90(S), pages 3-10.
    11. Helen Bernhard & Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher, 2006. "Group Affiliation and Altruistic Norm Enforcement," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 217-221, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. John Gowdy & Lisi Krall, 2014. "Agriculture as a major evolutionary transition to human ultrasociality," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 16(2), pages 179-202, July.
    2. Su, Tong-Yaa, 2016. "Competition between Firms in Economic Evolution: Its Characteristics and Differences to the Biological Sphere," MPRA Paper 72756, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Kurt Dopfer, 2013. "Economics with a Phylogenetic Signature," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2013-06, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
    4. Christian Cordes & Tong-Yaa Su & Pontus Strimling, 2015. "Going Through a Crisis: Firm Devekopment and Firm SIze Distributions," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2015-06, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
    5. repec:bla:scotjp:v:64:y:2017:i:4:p:392-418 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. repec:spr:joevec:v:27:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s00191-017-0525-5 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    evolution; pre-adaptations; group selection; firm organization; organizational behavior; leadership;

    JEL classification:

    • B25 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary; Austrian; Stockholm School
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • M14 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - Corporate Culture; Diversity; Social Responsibility

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