David Brooks: Nice Guys Finish First

May 19, 2011

This was my experience in business. Business depends far more on cooperation than on competition. It isn’t considered to be a “realistic” view only by those who have never been in business. One’s relations with suppliers, vendors, customers, sales reps, etc., etc. were far and away the largest form of interaction. And even between direct competitors, sharing information and resources cost little and offered much. Competition without cooperation isn’t business, it’s — well, what is it? Warfare, I suppose. Yet even there I suspect one could find instructive examples of cooperation. One that comes to mind is soldiers during the American Civil War, swapping tobacco for coffee. Apparently the brass didn’t much mind the surreptitious traffic. It didn’t hurt either side’s war effort and made life slightly easier for those doing the fighting.



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