I work in a student run event planning company that functions like an RSO. For anonymity I will call it company H. We are registered as an LLC because we specialize in doing parties at clubs and bars. Although we are a company, the employees are not paid, and all of the profits are further invested into buying equipment and holding bigger events. The process of H holding an event is team production with gift exchange because the employees collectively give up their time for a sense of accomplishment from holding an event. There are experiences during my time in H that relates to the examples in the article, and some that do not.
H has three teams: creative, marketing, and music. The marketing team requests fliers and posters from the creative team, marketing distributes the material, and the music department invites musicians or prepares DJ sets that fit the theme of the party. If one team does not meet a deadline, other teams can get delayed as well, and the party can fall apart. Since planning and preparation takes weeks, members in every department frequently face deadlines that coincide with exams or major assignments. Because H does not offer any form of payment to its employees, one would expect delays from people prioritizing schoolwork during busy periods. However, we generally do not face delays from missed deadlines. Some members tell me afterwards that they even went as far as to stay up late night finishing their work for H before an exam. This could be explained through the moral lens in the "power of altruism" article. If the employees were paid an hourly rate, or per project, they would probably pass on these projects during exam time. Without pay, they instead feel a moral obligation to meet their deadlines. If they do not, they could negatively affect the entire event, or other teams that are expecting to start their work on schedule. Busy students are potentially sacrificing their school performance to fulfill an obligation to others in the organization, without any expected profit.
A few weeks ago, the president of H asked all of us to do market research on potential sponsors for our events. I thought that this was strange, considering that we have a marketing team that specializes in this field. As all members of the three teams uploaded their results on the shared google doc, I noticed that much of the work was not detailed or relevant enough to actually be used at all. Considering that 2/3 of H specialize in the visual/musical aspect of the event, this was not surprising. I could only assume that he had been receiving complaints about some members not doing work, so he tried to create fairness by giving everyone work. This seems to be the "Tit for Tat" approach mentioned in the game theory article. In order to have everyone participate equally, he gave the same assignment to everyone. I found this to be a terrible approach for many reasons. One, the whole reason why we separate members into teams is because we have different field of expertise, and different roles to fulfill. To assign everyone something that the marketing team is supposed to do actually seems more unfair to non-marketing members. Furthermore, he did not give detailed directions for the assignment. This means that people would either put in the minimum amount of work required just to say they completed the assignment, or the non-marketing members would not know what the expectations were. It is difficult to define fairness in practice. Should people be forced to put in the same amount of time? What if people are putting in different levels of effort? What if everyone is trying his/her best, but do not have the same level of productivity?
Sharing marbles is slightly more difficult to apply in this example. Everyone in H is tugging the rope to create a successful party. But the profit all goes back to the company, so it is unclear if fairness or distribution should be applied in this case. However, we could discuss the power to make decisions on how to use the profits for the company. In this case, the team leaders and the president get together in a board meeting and come up with several ways to spend the money. Then, every member gets to vote for a specific plan in a general meeting. The reasoning is that everyone contributed time into making the event possible. This is analogous to tugging the rope analogy mentioned in the sharing marbles article.