Cooperation or co-operation is the process of working or acting together, which can be accomplished by both intentional and non-intentional agents. In its simplest form it involves things working in harmony, side by side, while in its more complicated forms, it can involve something as complex as the inner workings of a human being or even the social patterns of a nation. It is the alternative to working separately in competition. Cooperation can also be accomplished by computers, which can handle shared resources simultaneously, while sharing processor time.
Cooperation, more formally speak is how the components of a system work together to achieve the global properties. In other words, individual components that appear to be “selfish” and independent work together to create a highly complex, greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts system. Examples can be found all around us. The components in a cell work together to keep it living. Cells work together and communicate to produce multicellular organisms. Organisms form food chains and ecosystems. People form families, gangs, cities and nations. Neurons create thought and consciousness. Atoms cooperate in a simple way, by combining to make up molecules. Understanding the mechanisms that create cooperating agents in a system is one of the most important and least well understood phenomena in nature, though there has not been a lack of effort.
However, cooperation may be coerced (forced), voluntary (freely chosen), or even unintentional, and consequently individuals and groups might cooperate even though they have almost nothing in common as regards interests or goals. Examples of that can be found in market trade, military wars, families, workplaces, schools and prisons, and more generally any institution or organisation of which individuals are part (out of own choice, by law, or forced).
Even if all members of a group would benefit if all cooperate, individual self-interest may not favor cooperation. The prisoner's dilemma codifies this problem and has been the subject of much research, both theoretical and experimental. Results from experimental economics show that humans often act more cooperatively than strict self-interest would seem to dictate.
One reason for this may be that if the prisoner's dilemma situation is repeated (the iterated prisoner's dilemma), it allows non-cooperation to be punished more, and cooperation to be rewarded more, than the single-shot version of the problem would suggest. It has been suggested that this is one reason for the evolution of complex emotions in higher life forms, who, at least as infants, and usually thereafter, cannot survive without cooperating – although with maturation they gain much more choice about the kinds of cooperation they wish to have.
There are four main conditions that tend to be necessary for cooperative behaviour to develop between two individuals:
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Cooperation is when people work together to make their lives better, even though they are free to not work together, and receive little if any money for working together.
A cooperative is a type of organization that people use to make their lives better. The first cooperative was a store in Rochdale, England started in 1844. The people who started it wanted food that was cheaper and better quality. Since then, people have found many ways to cooperate. For example:
Co-operatives are democratic organizations owned by the people who use them. Cooperative organizations help people adapt to capitalism. The International Cooperative Alliance was started in 1885. It reports that there are 800 million cooperative members in the world.