Organizations and the Evolution of Cooperation

44 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2010 Last revised: 29 Mar 2012

See all articles by Danielle F. Jung

Danielle F. Jung

Emory University - Department of Political Science

David A. Lake

UC San Diego

Date Written: August 25, 2010


The Repeated Prisoner’s Dilemma (RPD) is a metaphor for the difficulties of achieving cooperation in social life. We present results from an agent-based model (ABM) of the RPD in which agents interact in a “market,” equivalent to interactions within the standard RPD, within networks, where agents acquire information or select with whom to interact, or within hierarchies that enforce cooperation by the threat of third party punishment. Organizations affect the evolution of cooperation in significant ways. In relatively nice worlds, agents join network, insulating themselves against often devastating defections of nasty players. In nasty worlds, nice agents enter hierarchies and increase or sustain their share of the population. In moderate worlds, contingent strategies typically decline as a share of the population. Organizations improve the welfare of all agents, but only in relatively nice worlds. We find the benefits of civil society are contingent on the population in which it emerges.

Suggested Citation

Jung, Danielle and Lake, David A., Organizations and the Evolution of Cooperation (August 25, 2010). APSA 2010 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN:

Danielle Jung (Contact Author)

Emory University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Atlanta, GA 30322
United States

David A. Lake

UC San Diego ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Code 0521
La Jolla, CA 92093-0521
United States
(858) 534-0347 (Phone)
(858) 534-7130 (Fax)


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