Which is Better, Cooperation or Competition?


Recently, a local business executive told me about a good money making opportunity he passed along to his competitor instead of taking the deal for himself. His reason was simple: “I could have done it, but those other people can do it better than I can.” In Jamestown, he knew the favor would be returned some day.

What happened to “dog-eat-dog?” Some days you can feel like you’re wearing MilkBone underwear, can’t you? Or what if somebody finds out you’re really just a kitten? In dog-eat-dog rules, you just get eaten.

Something interesting happens in a small city like Jamestown, though, when it comes to business. Just about anybody you can compete with is also either a friend or a neighbor or both. Many times I have heard stories about competitors who stepped up after a fire or a flood or a death and pitched in to keep a competitor in business. Each business does what it can to earn its best profit, but not by destroying another one.

Cooperation keeps a whole community healthy and everybody benefits, even when they compete.
The old term “good sport” is a good one to explain the coexistence of competition and cooperation. In sports, teams compete. But the competitors cooperate to write a rule book first. Then somebody wins and somebody loses, but nobody dies.

Dog eats dog competition weakens the fabric of a business community and the whole community suffers from a lowering of its standards of fairness and compassion. And the competitors eventually stand alone, adrift from the support of their own community.

This week the Jamestown Gazette invites you to check in on one of its newest sports franchises, the Southern Tier Xpress Hockey Team. The team owners have committed themselves to encouraging their players in a spirit of ethical behavior, contributing to the community and fair play along with, and even above, a purely killer attitude on the ice. The result? The team is closing in on the top of the league in scoring, winning and fan support. That is not an accident.

Competition and cooperation are the opposite sides of a single coin. President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “Competition has been shown to be useful up to a certain point and no further, but cooperation, which is the thing we must strive for today, begins where competition leaves off.”

Enjoy the read
Walt Pickut
Jamestown Gazette

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Walt Pickut
Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.