The Complexity Crisis
John L. Mariotti, ca. 230 pages, Platinum Press (2008)
n his blurb for the book by Atkins, Wilson, and Hayes, U.S. psychologist Tim Kasser aptly writes: "What do you get when you combine contemporary evolutionary research, insights from a Nobel Prize-winning economist, and years of psychological research on behavior change? As it turns out, you get a practical and intuitively appealing set of interventions to promote caring and cooperation - amid the demoralizing and polluting selfishness of the 21st century."
The trio of authors, consisting of Paul Atkins (Australian organizational psychologist), David Sloan Wilson (U.S. evolutionary biologist), and Steven C. Hayes (U.S. clinical psychologist), deliver "Prosocial," a theoretically sound and field-tested "toolbox" that decision-makers can use to achieve positive behavioral change and increase the effectiveness of teams of all kinds.
The authors divide their book into fifteen easily digestible chapters. While the first four chapters provide the basic building blocks (1. multilevel selection, 2. Elinor Ostrom's research on commons, 3. an updated overview of the eight design principles for successful groups, and 4. contextual behavioral research), the second part of the book (chapters 5 through 15) presents the concrete methods of the so-called "prosocial process." Here, the authors draw on tried and tested building blocks, which are also illustrated with case studies and practical tips.
In the core of the book, the authors address the tension between self-interest and the interest of others, which they systematize with the help of multilevel selection (and thus show, among other things, how important cooperation is for survival) and transfer to a concrete practical level with the help of the eight design principles for successful groups (according to Elinor Ostrom) and methods from acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT).
The book thus provides important theoretical foundations on the one hand, but also concrete, practice-tested implementation impulses for managers (and all others) who want to contribute to positive change in our complex world and better navigate the aforementioned field of tension between cooperative and competitive action.
Book recommendation by Dr. Michael P. Schlaile
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