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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"Consistent Contributors" Help Their Groups

Those who set an example of cooperative, collective behavior make groups they’re in more successful, according to a recent study. “Groups and organizations face a fundamental problem: They need cooperation but their members have incentives to free ride,” J. Mark Weber, a professor of organizational behavior at the University of Toronto, and J. Keith Murnighan, a professor of management and organization at Northwestern University, write in the study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Weber and Murnighan looked at data from experiments in which participants could either keep small amounts of money or contribute them to the group. The “consistent contributors”—those who offered up their money regardless of what others did—set a tone of cooperation that made their groups more efficient and productive. In the end, everyone in the consistent contributors’ groups came out ahead, challenging the common wisdom that consistent contributors were suckers who always finished last. — Kimberly Roots