The question of why people give without expecting anything in return continues to baffle sociologists. A research team that was interested in the dynamics surrounding unilateral giving when the combined motives of cooperation and competition coexist conducted a study to learn more about this with a Silicon Valley business accelerator. Their findings include that bonding rituals helped competitors identify with each other, triggering and sustaining early acts of giving. “Tournament rituals” or shows of strength as they were also called, only encouraged entrepreneurs to further their own interests, which eventually gave rise to more takers than givers. Their findings apply outside of business accelerators to other contexts where both competitive and cooperative motives exist. Thus, their findings offer critical lessons for organizations looking to build a more collaborative culture.

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