The Need for Kool-Aid

From EvoAnth (short for Evolutionary Anthropology), a post on possible evolutionary explanations for the rise of religion. The hypothesis among anthropologists was that rising social and economic complexity gave rise to correspondingly complex religious beliefs which helped to foster the necessary social cooperation.

So they went out and gathered data (albeit from other researchers) on 178 different cultures, comparing their source of food, group size, social complexity and type of religious belief. When analysed this information almost exactly matched their predictions. Amongst foragers – who can easily gather enough food with minimal co-operation between individuals – 88% had either no “high” god or a “high” god which did not bestow morals and did not interact with the world. At the other extreme of the scale, ~40% of groups dependent on intensive agriculture had a “high” god who interfered with the world and gave morals to the group.

Do companies that succeed even as they grow in size likewise foster stronger internal mythologies to try and maintain a consistent culture across a much larger, more distributed workforce?

Many companies have attempted to structure themselves in a way that preserves certain operational values even as they grow much larger, but perhaps religion-making is a necessary companion endeavor. Perhaps companies have something to learn from organized religion in the way they recruit and indoctrinate.