The Unselfish Gene The Idea in Brief Executives, like most other people, have long believed that human beings are interested only in advancing their material interests. However, recent research in evolutionary biology, psychology, sociology, political science, and experimental economics suggests that people behave far less selfishly than most assume. Evolutionary biologists and psychologists have even found neural and, possibly, genetic evidence of a human predisposition to cooperate. These findings suggest that instead of using controls or carrots and sticks to motivate people, companies should use systems that rely on engagement and a sense of common purpose. Several levers can help executives build cooperative systems: encouraging communication, ensuring authentic framing, fostering empathy and solidarity, guaranteeing fairness and morality, using rewards and punishments that appeal to intrinsic motivations, relying on reputation and reciprocity, and ensuring flexibility.
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