Blog Archive

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Nancy R. Buchan et al., PNAS, Globalization and human cooperation

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. , No. , ;

Globalization and human cooperation Nancy R. Buchana,*, Gianluca Grimaldab, Rick Wilsonc, Marilynn Brewerd, Enrique Fatase,f and Margaret Foddyg

aSonoco International Business Department, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208

bIN+ Center for Innovation, Technology, and Policy Research, Instituto Superior Tecnico, 1049-001 Lisbon, Portugal, and the Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, United Kingdom

cDepartment of Political Science, Rice University, Houston, TX 77005

dDepartment of Psychology, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210

eLaboratory for Research in Experimental Economics, University of Valencia, 46020 Valencia, Spain

fThe School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences, University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, TX 75080

Department of Psychology, Carleton University, Ottawa, ON Canada K15 586
  1. Edited by Elinor Ostrom, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, and approved January 21, 2009 (received for review September 25, 2008)


Globalization magnifies the problems that affect all people and that require large-scale human cooperation, for example, the overharvesting of natural resources and human-induced global warming. However, what does globalization imply for the cooperation needed to address such global social dilemmas? Two competing hypotheses are offered. One hypothesis is that globalization prompts reactionary movements that reinforce parochial distinctions among people. Large-scale cooperation then focuses on favoring one's own ethnic, racial, or language group. The alternative hypothesis suggests that globalization strengthens cosmopolitan attitudes by weakening the relevance of ethnicity, locality, or nationhood as sources of identification. In essence, globalization, the increasing interconnectedness of people worldwide, broadens the group boundaries within which individuals perceive they belong. We test these hypotheses by measuring globalization at both the country and individual levels and analyzing the relationship between globalization and individual cooperation with distal others in multilevel sequential cooperation experiments in which players can contribute to individual, local, and/or global accounts. Our samples were drawn from the general populations of the United States, Italy, Russia, Argentina, South Africa, and Iran. We find that as country and individual levels of globalization increase, so too does individual cooperation at the global level vis-à-vis the local level. In essence, “globalized” individuals draw broader group boundaries than others, eschewing parochial motivations in favor of cosmopolitan ones. Globalization may thus be fundamental in shaping contemporary large-scale cooperation and may be a positive force toward the provision of global public goods.

  • *Correspondence: University of South Carolina, Moore School of Business, Sonoco International Business Department, 1705 College Street, Columbia, SC 29208. e-mail:
  • Author contributions: N.R.B., G.G., R.W., M.B., E.F., and M.F. designed research; N.R.B., G.G., R.W., M.B., E.F., and M.F. performed research; N.R.B., G.G., R.W., M.B., and E.F. contributed new reagents/analytic tools; N.R.B., G.G., R.W., M.B., and E.F. analyzed data; and N.R.B., G.G., R.W., M.B., and E.F. wrote the paper. The authors declare no conflict of interest. This article is a PNAS Direct Submission.

Link to abstract:

No comments: