Competition LO18032

Ed Brenegar (
Fri, 8 May 1998 07:28:29 +0100

Replying to LO18006 --


It is a humbling experience to have someone say that they actually thought
about something you've written or said. So thanks for the honor.

Now in regard to your questions, see below.

One, I think that it is hard to judge the cooperative/competitive scale on
public figures I don't know personally. They may espouse cooperation, and
even act cooperatively in a pragmatic sense, but be intensely competitive
personally. They recognize, possibly, that the best way to get results,
derived from the competitive urge, is to cooperate. I don't think you
become Secretary General of the U.N. by being passive. Mother Teresa
didn't become the symbol of compassion by just caring for the dying poor
in Calcutta.

What I'm leading to, and it may contradict what I've written previously,
but that cooperation and competition are values and actions. I can value
and act cooperatively. I also think that they are characteristics of
personality. Some people are more given to cooperate than compete. That
may be part genetic, part socialization, part cultural. It is this side
of the question which reveals whether the person is more aggressive or
passive. And I do factor that in when I work with people. I want to know
whether they are going to act on my recommendations. I hope that this
hasn't confused the question more.

To summarize: I think that whether one cooperates or competes is first a
question of values or philosophy. Second, it fits into their personality.
Some people are more passive than others. What is the ideal? I think
that depends on who you are, what the context is and what you want to come
from the task at hand. The drive to compete is a value which has been
nurtured for generations in American society. The need to cooperate less
so, but that is changing. As our global village becomes more complex and
diverse, the premium, I think, is going to be on how a group through their
cooperation with one another, can compete in the global marketplace. And
I think that only in a group or team context do people learn how to
cooperate, and ultimately how to be adaptive and inclusive.

Thanks again, Roxanne, for your questions. It has been helpful in
clarifying my own perspective.

Ed Brenegar
Leadership Resources
"Building Communities of Leadership"


"Ed Brenegar" <>

Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <>