Competitive Altruism – Preening each other from our environmental parasites
As an end note to my recent posts about Competitive Collaboration I came across the view or concept of competitive altruism, which in my view could also drive collaboration with competitors.
Competitive altruism in the environmental movement is said to describe the idea that people want to be seen to be doing good despite the personal cost adds as it may add to your status in society. The Prius being an obvious example.
A not so obvious example that the book the Sixth Wave gave was that competitive altruism as one reason for the success of reusable shopping bags in supermarkets – if the reusable bags looked the same as the plastic bags, they might not have been so successful.
So yes, ‘visibility‘ is one of the key enablers to promoting Competitive Collaboration.
But I think the better analogy to Competitive Altruism is the grooming of animals within packs.
From wikipedia “to explain competitive altruism, Roberts uses the example of preening among birds. Because certain birds cannot reach parasites on all parts of their bodies, particularly their necks, they benefit from preening one another. For any given bird, there is an entire flock of potential preeners, who compete in hopes of establishing a beneficial relationship. Cheaters, or those birds that try to be preened without preening others, do not compete and thus are excluded from these relationships. Their fitness is lowered because they are ostracized by members of the flock.”
If we take to preening others from their environmental wastes, trust that in return someone will help to preen us, then maybe those that do not compete collaboratively will be excluded from future relationships and will be ostracized by members of the flock.