Definitions of Cooperation


According to, the Latin word cooperatio derived from the term cooperation, which refers to the act and result of cooperating: acting together to achieve a common goal or acting in favor of someone’s interests.

For example: “Due to the consequences of the floods, the victims will need everyone’s cooperation to get ahead”, “Excuse me, could I ask for your cooperation? I have a mechanical problem and I need help to push my car”, “Both countries established a scientific cooperation agreement”.

Cooperation implies collaboration, contribution or assistance. Suppose that two nations sign an educational cooperation agreement. The pact proposes that experts in educational policies and educators from both countries work together to improve the education of all inhabitants.

Cooperation agreements in different fields are usual between States to strengthen each other. Within this framework we can speak of military cooperation, environmental cooperation, judicial cooperation and economic cooperation, among others.

There are also various international cooperation organizations. Among them is the Indian Ocean Regional Cooperation, established in 1995 and currently made up of nineteen members. Its function is to provide information to entrepreneurs in the region to encourage investment and commercial activity.

The Black Sea Economic Cooperation, for its part, works to establish common criteria that allow regional development. This institution was created in 1992, with headquarters in Istanbul (Turkey). Its members include Turkey, Russia, Greece, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Albania.

Several researchers, among which Martin Nowak and Robert Axelrod stand out, developed the theory of cooperation at the end of the 20th century, based on the idea that each individual pursues his own interest, without being forced by a central authority to help others. Axelrod published a book entitled The Evolution of Cooperation, in which he explores the ways in which cooperation arises and is maintained in a community, and under what conditions selfishness tends to predominate.

An American mathematician named Merrill Flood Meeks, for his part, developed a problem called the prisoner’s dilemma, which serves to show that two individuals can choose not to cooperate even if it is against their personal interest. Here is the classic enunciation of it:

Two suspicious people are arrested by the police. There is not enough evidence to convict them, so they are separated and offered the following treatment: if only one of them confesses, they are released and the other is sentenced to ten years in prison; if both confess, then they are sentenced to six years; if both deny their guilt, then the penalty for both is one year.

Taking these possibilities into account, if the two prisoners are selfish and only pursue the goal of getting out as soon as possible, they have two options at their disposal: remain silent to help their accomplice, or betray him through a confession. Let’s not forget that the decision of each does not lead to a specific sentence until the other does not occur and, to complicate things even more, neither of them knows what their partner will do.

The study of this dilemma leads us to suppose that not even after a supposed conversation in which both prisoners could agree could they really trust each other, and for this reason cooperation is not the dominant attitude, but confession; Of course, if both decide to confess, believing that this increases the chances of being released, both will be subject to a sentence.