This is not intended to be an exhaustive list of the academic literature that supports the Core Design Principles (CDPs), but rather to demonstrate their efficacy.

CDP 1 Icon.png


Shared identity and purpose. A group functions best when its purpose is clearly understood and perceived as worthwhile by its members. A group also functions best when it offers a strong group identity, such that members are proud to belong and enjoy their time together. Prosocial is about creating cultures that constantly reflect on the “towards” move dynamically.

CDP 2 Icon.png


CDP 3 Icon.png


Equitable distribution of contributions and benefits. Most people have a strong sense of equity that is violated when someone receives benefits disproportionate to their contributions. Perceived fairness is essential for high group performance.  Often this is about balance of effort (workload) and reward. Perceived unfairness is sometimes ‘undiscussable’ in groups and sometimes it is discussed endlessly but in ways that do not lead to positive change.

Fair and inclusive decision-making. If you want good decisions and motivated people, group members need to be involved in making the decisions that affect them, particularly agreements about how the group runs. This can take the form of consensual decision making but in some circumstances consultation with a designated leader/representative, voting or even the opportunity to make objections (veto powers) can be enough and more efficient.

CDP 4 Icon.png


Monitoring of agreed behaviors (Transparency). Self-serving behaviors increase when there is a lack of transparency. Monitoring does not need to be coercive. It can be as simple as having regular check-ins or meetings to discuss progress. Research shows monitoring is usually better performed by peers as part of the normal interaction of group members.

more articles coming soon!

CDP 5 Icon.png


Graduated responding to helpful and unhelpful behaviors (Feedback). Effective groups have responses to transgressions ranging from open, compassionate conversation to find out what happened, through to sanctions or even, ultimately, exclusion from the group. Research shows trust increases in groups when sanctioning occurs for unhelpful behaviors. But sanctions alone are not enough. To create enjoyment, belonging and engagement with the group, helpful behaviors must also be encouraged. Typically, this can be as simple as expressing gratitude for helpful acts or it can be built into more formal recognition systems.

CDP 6 Icon.png


Fast and fair conflict resolution. Any group that involves committed individuals acting authentically will inevitably encounter conflict as people have different interests and information. It is best to plan for conflicts and their resolution from the beginning by building conflict resolution skills among group members and creating helpful, flexible processes for conflict resolution.

CDP 7 Icon.png


Authority to self-govern (according to principles 1-6). Every group is embedded in a larger society that can limit its ability to govern its own affairs. These constraints can interfere with the objectives of the group and the implementation of design principles 1-6.  For example, the context might impose excessive regulation on how the group behaves (e.g., when Human Resources departments constrain conflict resolution to formal procedures) or minimize the capacity of the group leader to act as a leader. Groups must be able to implement principles 1-6, without excessive interference, to function effectively.

CDP 8 Icon.png


Collaborative relations with other groups (using principles 1-7). If we are to build systems of cooperation, a group must relate to other groups using principles 1-7.  This can go wrong in two ways: a) other groups may not cooperate with you (e.g., they don’t include your group in important decisions, behave in ways that can’t be monitored, and so on), or b) your group may not cooperate well with other groups. In this fashion, the same design principles are relevant at all levels of a multi-tier hierarchy of social units. For example, groups cooperate well when there is shared purpose, equity, inclusiveness in decision making etc. between groups as well as within groups.

Core design principles for nurturing

organization‑level selection


Aligica, P. D., & Tarko, V. (2011). Polycentricity: From Polanyi to Ostrom, and Beyond. Governance, 25(2), 237-262. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0491.2011.01550.x


Alper, S., Tjosvold, D., & Law, K. S. (2000). Conflict management, efficacy and performance in organizational teams. Personnel Psychology, 53(3), 625-642. doi:10.1111/j.1744-6570.2000.tb00216.x


Atkins, P. W. B., Wilson, D. S., & Hayes, S. C. (Forthcoming Oct 2019). Prosocial: Using Evolutionary Science to Build Productive, Equitable, and Collaborative Groups: New Harbinger.


Balliet, D., & Van Lange, P. A. M. (2013). Trust, Punishment, and Cooperation Across 18 Societies: A Meta-Analysis. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 8(4), 363-379. doi:10.1177/1745691613488533


Bashshur, M. R., & Oc, B. (2015). When Voice Matters. Journal of Management, 41(5), 1530-1554. doi:10.1177/0149206314558302


Bernstein, E. S. (2017). Making Transparency Transparent: The Evolution of Observation in Management Theory. Academy of Management Annals, 11(1), 217.


Besedeš, T., Deck, C., Quintanar, S., Sarangi, S., & Shor, M. (2014). Effort and Performance: What Distinguishes Interacting and Noninteracting Groups from Individuals? Southern Economic Journal, 81(2), 294-322. doi:10.4284/0038-4038-2013.020


Boettke, P. J., Lemke, J. S., & Palagashvili, L. (2016). Re-evaluating community policing in a polycentric system. Journal of Institutional Economics, 12(2), 305-325. doi:10.1017/s174413741500034x


Bradley, B. H., Postlethwaite, B. E., Klotz, A. C., Hamdani, M. R., & Brown, K. G. J. J. o. A. P. (2012). Reaping the benefits of task conflict in teams: The critical role of team psychological safety climate. 97(1), 151.


Brewer, M. B. (1996). When contact is not enough: Social identity and intergroup cooperation. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 20(3-4), 291-303. doi:10.1016/0147-1767(96)00020-x


Brockner, J., Heuer, L., Siegel, P. A., Wiesenfeld, B., Martin, C., Grover, S., . . . Bjorgvinsson, S. (1998). The moderating effect of self-esteem in reaction to voice: Converging evidence from five studies. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75(2), 394-407. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.75.2.394


Chamberlin, M., Newton, D. W., & LePine, J. A. (2018). A meta-analysis of empowerment and voice as transmitters of high-performance managerial practices to job performance. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 39(10), 1296-1313. doi:10.1002/job.2295


Charness, G., & Sutter, M. (2012). Groups Make Better Self-Interested Decisions. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 26(3), 157-176. doi:10.1257/jep.26.3.157


Cloutier, J., Vilhuber, L., Harrisson, D., & Béland-Ouellette, V. (2018). Understanding the effect of procedural justice on psychological distress. International Journal of Stress Management, 25(3), 283-300. doi:10.1037/str0000065


Cohen-Charash, Y., & Spector, P. E. (2001). The Role of Justice in Organizations: A Meta-Analysis. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 86(2), 278-321. doi:


Colquitt, J. A., Noe, R. A., & Jackson, C. L. (2002). Justice in teams: antecedents and consequences of procedural justice climate. Personnel Psychology, 55(1), 83-109. doi:10.1111/j.1744-6570.2002.tb00104.x


Colquitt, J. A., Scott, B. A., Rodell, J. B., Long, D. M., Zapata, C. P., Conlon, D. E., & Wesson, M. J. (2013). Justice at the millennium, a decade later: A meta-analytic test of social exchange and affect-based perspectives. Journal of Applied Psychology, 98(2), 199-236. doi:10.1037/a0031757


Cronin, K. A., Acheson, D. J., Hernández, P., & Sánchez, A. (2015). Hierarchy is Detrimental for Human Cooperation. Scientific Reports, 5, 18634. doi:10.1038/srep18634


de Wit, F. R., Greer, L. L., & Jehn, K. A. (2012). The paradox of intragroup conflict: a meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 97(2), 360-390. doi:10.1037/a0024844


Donald, J. N., Sahdra, B. K., Van Zanden, B., Duineveld, J. J., Atkins, P. W. B., Marshall, S. L., & Ciarrochi, J. (2019). Does your mindfulness benefit others? A systematic review and meta-analysis of the link between mindfulness and prosocial behaviour. British Journal of Psychology, 110(1), 101-125. doi:10.1111/bjop.12338


Fehr, E., & Gächter, S. (2002). Altruistic punishment in humans. Nature, 415, 137. doi:10.1038/415137a


Guinote, A. (2017). How Power Affects People: Activating, Wanting, and Goal Seeking. Annual Review of Psychology, 68, 353-381. doi:10.1146/annurev-psych-010416-044153


Gürerk, Ö., Irlenbusch, B., & Rockenbach, B. (2006). The Competitive Advantage of Sanctioning Institutions. Science, 312(5770), 108. doi:10.1126/science.1123633


Hogg Michael, A. (2015). Constructive Leadership across Groups: How Leaders Can Combat Prejudice and Conflict between Subgroups. In Advances in Group Processes (Vol. 32, pp. 177-207): Emerald Group Publishing Limited.


Humphrey, S. E., Aime, F., Cushenbery, L., Hill, A. D., & Fairchild, J. (2017). Team conflict dynamics: Implications of a dyadic view of conflict for team performance. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 142, 58-70. doi:


Hunton, J. E., Hall, T. W., & Price, K. H. (1998). The value of voice in participative decision making. Journal of Applied Psychology, 83(5), 788-797. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.83.5.788


Karam, E. P., Hu, J., Davison, R. B., Juravich, M., Nahrgang, J. D., Humphrey, S. E., & Scott DeRue, D. (2019). Illuminating the ‘Face’ of Justice: A Meta-Analytic Examination of Leadership and Organizational Justice. Journal of Management Studies, 56(1), 134-171. doi:10.1111/joms.12402


Kerr, N. L., Rumble, A. C., Park, E. S., Ouwerkerk, J. W., Parks, C. D., Gallucci, M., & van Lange, P. A. M. (2009). “How many bad apples does it take to spoil the whole barrel?”: Social exclusion and toleration for bad apples. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45(4), 603-613. doi:


Kerr, N. L., & Tindale, R. S. (2004). Group Performance and Decision Making. Annual Review of Psychology, 55(1), 623-655. doi:10.1146/annurev.psych.55.090902.142009


Kim, M., Beehr, T. A., & Prewett, M. S. (2018). Employee Responses to Empowering Leadership: A Meta-Analysis. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 25(3), 257-276. doi:10.1177/1548051817750538


Kirkman, B. L., & Rosen, B. (1999). Beyond Self-Management: Antecedents and Consequences of Team Empowerment. The Academy of Management Journal, 42(1), 58-74.


Kugler, T., Kausel, E. E., & Kocher, M. G. (2012). Are groups more rational than individuals? A review of interactive decision making in groups. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science, 3(4), 471-482. doi:10.1002/wcs.1184


Langfred, C. W. (2004). Too Much of a Good Thing? Negative Effects of High Trust and Individual Autonomy in Self-Managing Teams. Academy of Management Journal, 47(3), 385-399. doi:10.2307/20159588


Langfred, C. W. (2007). The Downside of Self-Management: A Longitudinal Study of the Effects tf Conflict on Trust, Autonomy, and Task Interdependence in Self-Managing Teams. Academy of Management Journal, 50(4), 885-900. doi:10.5465/amj.2007.26279196


Latham, G. P., & Pinder, C. C. (2005). Work Motivation Theory and Research at the Dawn of the Twenty-First Century. Annual Review of Psychology, 56, 485-516.


Maciejovsky, B., Sutter, M., Budescu, D. V., & Bernau, P. (2013). Teams Make You Smarter: How Exposure to Teams Improves Individual Decisions in Probability and Reasoning Tasks. Management Science, 59(6), 1255-1270. doi:10.1287/mnsc.1120.1668


Majolo, B., & Maréchal, L. (2017). Between-group competition elicits within-group cooperation in children. Scientific Reports, 7(1), 43277. doi:10.1038/srep43277


Martin, A., & Olson, K. R. (2015). Beyond good and evil: what motivations underlie children's prosocial behavior? Perspectives on Psychological Science, 10(2), 159-175. doi:10.1177/1745691615568998


Nesterkin, D. (2016). Conflict management and performance of information technology development teams. Team Performance Management, 22(5/6), 242-256. doi:10.1108/TPM-05-2016-0018


Newig, J., & Fritsch, O. (2009). Environmental governance: participatory, multi-level - and effective? Environmental Policy and Governance, 19(3), 197-214. doi:10.1002/eet.509


O’Neill, T. A., McLarnon, M. J. W., Hoffart, G. C., Woodley, H. J. R., & Allen, N. J. (2018). The Structure and Function of Team Conflict State Profiles. Journal of Management, 44(2), 811-836. doi:10.1177/0149206315581662


Pacheco, G., & Webber, D. (2016). Job satisfaction: how crucial is participative decision making? Personnel Review, 45(1), 183-200. doi:10.1108/pr-04-2014-0088


Sherif, M. (1958). Superordinate Goals in the Reduction of Intergroup Conflict. American Journal of Sociology, 63(4), 349-356.


Simpson, B., Willer, R., & Harrell, A. (2017). The Enforcement of Moral Boundaries Promotes Cooperation and Prosocial Behavior in Groups. Scientific Reports, 7, 42844. doi:


Slemp, G. R., Kern, M. L., Patrick, K. J., & Ryan, R. M. (2018). Leader autonomy support in the workplace: A meta-analytic review. Motivation and Emotion. doi:10.1007/s11031-018-9698-y


Stewart, G. L., Courtright, S. H., & Barrick, M. R. (2012). Peer-based control in self-managing teams: linking rational and normative influence with individual and group performance. J Appl Psychol, 97(2), 435-447. doi:10.1037/a0025303


Sutter, M., Czermak, S., & Feri, F. (2013). Strategic sophistication of individuals and teams. Experimental evidence. 64, 395-410. doi:10.1016/j.euroecorev.2013.06.003


Tata, J., & Prasad, S. (2004). Team Self-management, Organizational Structure, and Judgments of Team Effectiveness. Journal of Managerial Issues, 16(2), 248-265.


van Bunderen, L., Greer, L., & van Knippenberg, D. (2017). When inter-team conflict spirals into intra-team power struggles: the pivotal role of team power structures. Academy of Management Journal. doi:10.5465/amj.2016.0182


Van Gramberg, B., Teicher, J., Bamber, G. J., & Cooper, B. (2017). A changing world of workplace conflict resolution and employee voice: An Australian perspective. Paper presented at the Conflict and its Resolution in the Changing World of Work: A Conference and Special Issue Honoring David B. Lipsky, Ithaca, NY.


Van Vugt, M., Jepson, S. F., Hart, C. M., & De Cremer, D. (2004). Autocratic leadership in social dilemmas: A threat to group stability. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 40(1), 1-13. doi:10.1016/s0022-1031(03)00061-1


Vincente, M.-T., & Carolina, M. (2017). Justice in Teams. In: Oxford University Press.


Viswesvaran, C., & Ones, D. S. (2002). Examining the Construct of Organizational Justice: A Meta-Analytic Evaluation of Relations with Work Attitudes and Behaviors. Journal of Business Ethics, 38(3), 193-203.


Vollstädt, U., & Böhm, R. (2019). Are groups more competitive, more selfish-rational or more prosocial bargainers? Journal of Behavioral and


Experimental Economics, 78, 146-159. doi:


Yamagishi, T. (1988). The Provision of a Sanctioning System in the United States and Japan. 51(3), 265. doi:10.2307/2786924

Yang, S.-B., & Guy, M. E. (2011). The Effectiveness of Self-Managed Work Teams in Government Organizations. Journal of Business and Psychology, 26(4), 531-541. doi:10.1007/s10869-010-9205-2