Seminar: The Role of Cooperation in the Evolution of Cooperatives with Tim Waring

Friday, February 10th 6pm ET / 11 pm UTC

ProSocial Commons

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Timothy M. Waring
Free seminar and Q&A sponsored by the ProSocial Commons

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How do organizations evolve? Dr. Waring will address this question in general using the example of food buying clubs. Food buying clubs are small informal consumer cooperatives in which people share bulk purchases and buy specialty foods. While successful buying clubs sometimes grow large enough to open a storefront, others struggle or expire. Dr. Waring argues that food buying clubs rely on cooperation to survive, making them vulnerable to the internal threat of free-riding. Waring shows how food buying clubs overcome the free-riding problem. Evidence from interviews, surveys, stakeholder research, agent-based simulation and behavioral experiments suggest that cooperatives must adopt individual norms and group practices to maintain cooperation. In food-buying clubs, cooperation is likely maintained through informal reciprocity among members. Dr. Waring uses these results to draw inferences about the role of cooperation in the evolution of human organizations generally.

Dr. Tim Waring is associate professor of applied cultural evolution at the University of Maine. Dr. Waring studies how cooperation and culture determine social and environmental outcomes. He builds and tests evolutionary models of social and economic change to learn how sustainable behaviors and durable institutions arise and persist. He uses behavioral and economic experiments and agent-based simulations. He has led the development of an evolutionary theory of sustainability and apply it to case studies around the world. Waring also received a prestigious CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation and leads an international working group on evolutionary approaches to sustainability. Current projects include the evolution of co-operative organizations, the patterns and processes of long-term human evolution, cultural adaptation to climate change among US Farmers to climate change.