For a long time, the idea has prevailed that it is the fittest that survives in nature; although it has also been commonly thought that fit means strong, confusing both terms, which in reality are not synonymous. In the same way, it has been assumed that what is true in nature must also be true in human beings, society, and in a particular way in the economy, with competition between companies. However, these ideas that we are examining here need not be held as infallible rules in the natural world, the business world, and human society in general.
The law of the strongest
The thesis of the strongest as the fittest is a generalization, or perhaps a misrepresentation, of the theories of Darwin and Spencer regarding the survival of species and the so-called natural selection, which would explain why some species become extinct and others do not. By this, it has been thought that the surest way to survive, whether we are talking about countries, nations, organizations, or individuals, is to wipe out others who may be our competition, who may dispute the resources we need to live.
Thus, competing, in nature or the economy, is more or less the same thing; it means controlling the resources that feed me but making sure that I have everything I want regardless of the others. In theory, it is thought that plants compete for light (although some live in the shade); that predators compete for food (although many hunts in groups or packs).
This idea is so ingrained that it is encouraged from the earliest education. Grades are a form of competition, which shows who is or will be the fittest and will succeed, enter a university, get a job in a prestigious organization, or create a competitive company. In other words, from a very early age, we are taught that we have to compete because in the world, there is not everything for everyone, and only the strongest survives.
In the case of companies, competition is for the market, for customers, to ensure that they buy their product and not that of the other company, which sells something similar (direct competition) or fulfills the same functions (indirect competition). Then, to ensure their survival, companies have to be like the strongest predator, even, if it were the case, to tear apart the rival so as not to leave him even a scrap of that delicious prey that is the market.
Based on this, economics and marketing theorists formulate theories about understanding the market, enhancing our capabilities to become the most robust and most competitive, and killing off the less fit. There are studies, researches come and go. They all reinforce the idea that if you do not become solid or competitive in the market, you will not be able to catch the prey, and you will succumb; you will be the loser in the competition, and you will die of starvation, like the tiger in the desert.
Survival of the most collaborative
The question is: what if we have been mistaken and it is not exactly the strongest that always survive? And is it really the case that all species compete? Well, truth be told, according to authors of the stature of Fritjof Capra, collaborative organisms can be as or better able to survive than those considered simply the strongest. This is the case, for example, with bacteria, which have survived on this planet longer than large predators, thanks to a quality that distinguishes them: bacteria have developed mechanisms to exchange genetic information, not from one generation to another, but from one individual to another, horizontally; they transmit the information to the one next to them, this one to the one that follows and so on.
As a result of this ability, the world’s bacteria have access to a shared gene pool, which provides them with adaptive mechanisms. And that is why they dominate the planet. They are everywhere. They have been here forever. They were here before us, and they will continue to be here. They are a model of biological efficiency and the basis of the most complex life, and they don’t even have to compete with each other. They help each other to survive because that is to their benefit. This is similar to what happens in a collaborative economy, as we will see below.
The terms collaborative economy, sharing economy, or sharing economy are often used synonymously. Although there is no unanimous agreement on what this means, there is no doubt that, at present, we are in the presence of a phenomenon underpinned by new communication technologies. This phenomenon in the economy translates into using such technologies to make information available to individuals or companies to optimize resources based on the mutualization of excess capacity in goods and services.
Although there may also be organizations and companies that operate collaboratively without online transactions, within a collaborative economy, the flow of information is fundamental, so that, in addition to the subjects of the exchange (whether company-company or company-person), the participation of websites, mainly platforms, is critical; but if and only if this site or forum is not, in turn, a space created for profit, because then we would not correctly speak of a collaborative economy in the strict sense of the term.
What is fundamental in this process is that the collaborative economy encompasses a wide range of structures, individuals and organizations whose aim is to cooperate; and although they achieve a profit, this is the result of an alliance on win-win terms, rather than competing in its purest essence; so it would not be strange that two organizations, which in the real market would-be competitors, in a collaborative economy establish an alliance to carry out a joint task that brings benefits to both.
On the other hand, the cooperative economy provides a wide range of information that translates into more and better access to a great variety of offers of products, goods, services, even human talent. Since the collaborative economy is self-regulated, individuals and companies that actively participate as users and suppliers, lenders or borrowers, are organized in exchange schemes. The principles of equity, cooperation, horizontality, and, above all, freedom prevail.