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Joint Efforts and Group Efforts

Puzzle Pieces
Puzzle Pieces

Man was not meant to live in isolation. It is not good that the man should be alone, says The Lord. (Genesis 2:18) Though it’s also true that men are supposed to take responsibility for their own affairs, and many men are quite capable, another truth is that no man is truly self-sufficient. Take something as simple as a pencil. No man, no matter how smart, would be able to produce a pencil entirely by himself. To produce a pencil would require the raw materials wood, lead, metal, and rubber. To procure these would require lumber mills, lead mines and so forth. These all require various resources such as tools, machinery and fuel. This is all not to mention the various skills involved. Even the very idea of a pencil is the result of the ideas of many men over time. For there is truly nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10) Like the pencil we take for granted how complicated it is for us to get the things we need. It takes cooperation. Cooperation is much more efficient and productive than self-sufficient individual efforts. Countless decisions are made by countless peacefully cooperating individuals. How is all this orchestrated? To understand how it all works you have to understand the difference between the less desirable group efforts and the superior joint efforts.

Group efforts are when responsibilities, efforts and rewards are shared with others. There are good reasons why group efforts are less desirable than joint efforts. First, while it is expected that groups will act as a single unit with a unified purpose, they are not living entities and don’t think or act only as individuals do. Group efforts inevitably lead to compromise. The individual who acts alone doesn’t have to alter his objectives. Another problem with the group effort is that rewards and failures are diluted because they are shared. Incentives suffer. Furthermore, problems with the group effort only tend to become worse as the group gets larger.

Joint efforts differ from group efforts in that the individual responsibilities and rewards are separate. Joint efforts are much more efficient than group efforts because with joint efforts the individual is much more flexible, mobile, and he doesn’t have to waste time with compromise. Joint efforts also create greater incentives in that the individual’s rewards and consequences are for him alone-they are to him according to his ability.

The fact is, joint efforts aren’t just important for business-they’re necessary to increase our standard of living. An individual can’t even produce a pencil from scratch. To efficiently produce much of anything means relying on the efforts of others. Individuals need tools, materials and knowledge. This problem is solved by the specialization of labor. When some people spend their time producing a single product, while others specialize in producing others, the result is greater production of all products. The specialization of labor has raised the standard of living for everyone. We take for granted the complexity of cooperation and the many things that joint efforts have made possible what was only available to royalty not so long ago.

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Joshua Ambrose

Joshua Ambrose is a restless disciple of Christ and sometimes whimsical mischief-maker. When not writing about theology, he writes about philosophy, history, economics, finance and basically anything that involves being a good neighbor in a way that honors his Lord.

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