Poorly done evolutionary appeals also leave the genie out of the bottle. In "Hidden Assets", Ehin gives evidence that un-management (his term for full self-organization with tribe sized business groups) is the strongest leverager of human capital. While I believe this rather dogmatic assertion may apply in specific cases, I think it is a huge over-extension when generalized. However, Ehin uses a functionalist appeal to evolutionary psychology to bolster his argument. In doing so he fails to identify why we should accommodate evolutionary tendencies for un-managment but reject evolutionary tendencies towards despotism and hierarchial structures. I suspect a standard free-loader argument would come into play here. However, Ehin never used it. This substantially undermines Ehin's book. The questionable validity of functional appeals really demeans what should have been a very interesting thesis.
Successful explanations about how self-0rganization, social capital and tacit knowledge affect absorptive capacity would seem to require the following elements:
- multi-level selection theory (see Wilson's "Darwin's Cathedral")
- structures limiting free-loader exploitation (see Wilson's "Darwin's Cathedral & Atran's "In God's we trust)
- organizational entropy - a.k.a - the rise and fall of organization structures (see Willis, 2004 in "A complexity and Darwinian approach to management with failure avoidance as the key tool")
- group neuropsychology (I think the evolutionary psychology of religion is a fruitful approach to this question, although other branches of science certainly can offer quite a few insights as well)
- a pragmatic philosophical base (I think Peirce is probably the best resource here - his physics background resonates well complexity theory and its history)
- a tool like relational (social) networks for exploring and testing predictions
However, this certainly isn't an exhaustive list. What elements need to be brought together for a full answer to Ehin's thesis?