Recoupling: The Driver of Human Success

This article’s point of departure is that most of life’s challenges are collective challenges, to be addressed through collective action that can be successful only when people act beyond enlightened self-interest. This is the opposite of the methodological individualism that underlies mainstream economic and political analysis. The core idea is that to address our collective challenges, we need to coordinate our collective capacities at a scale and scope at which these challenges occur. As our challenges vary through time, often unpredictably, our capacities are continually in danger of becoming decoupled from our challenges. Thus our survival and wellbeing depends on our success in continually recoupling our capacities with our challenges. Such recoupling invariably involves not just cooperation (working with others to achieve one’s own goals), but also collaboration (working with others towards common goals). When individuals collaborate, they participate in the purposes and welfare of the social groups in which they are embedded. Recoupling deserves to become a central guide for public policy, business strategy and civic action.