Is organization an innate human trait or learned?


Posted on June 12, 2010 by Tara Thiagarajan in Blog, Writing. 2 comments

I’ve posted before thoughts on why the poor tend to be fragmented in their economic activity rather than organized into groups and it sparked some discussion (see Driving socioeconomic change by making women more dependent). I’ve been thinking now about the ability to organize in general. Our microeducation team at Madura just got back from the first pilot testing of our digital ‘mini MBA’ program. This is a video based training program that brings business education to the poor that has been developed in collaboration with Dr. Madhu Viswanathan at University of Illinois at Urbana Champagne and his Marketplace Literacy initiative. They tested with two different groups – one that was reasonably educated (10th or 12th grade) and one that was largely illiterate, and came back with some very interesting learnings. Here’s one: There are a couple places where the video instructor asks them to pause the video, organize into groups of three or four and talk about some particular question or topic. The groups, particularly the more illiterate group were unable to carry out this instruction of organizing into groups. It had to be explained really explicitly and they are now looking at adapting the video to include a demo of how to break up into smaller groups. So, I wonder, is organization itself an innovation that we have taught rather than an inherent human trait?





2 thoughts on “Is organization an innate human trait or learned?

  1. There are certain organizational structures that are more natural to our brains than others. “Headman”, I think is the description I’ve heard. We tend to organize in bands of 5-15 with a central executive leader.

    Perhaps the kind of exercise of going tribal in small groups of short duration just happens to be something that doesn’t come to us naturally.