Do nice people win in the business world? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Auren Hoffman, SafeGraph CEO, on Quora:

Assuming "nice" means "good person," then it pays to be nice. In general, it is much easier to stay true to your moral compass in business than in many other competitive endeavors.

In the business world, especially in technology companies, winners are the non-zero sum. That means that lots people can win and grow the pie for everyone. Growing the pie means people are, in general, much more cooperative. Sometimes I get the feeling that everyone in Silicon Valley is playing for the same team (against everyone outside Silicon Valley).

In politics and entertainment and the arts (and other worlds), winners are much more zero-sum, so competition is much higher, and thus one would expect more dirty tricks and moral lapses.

If you live in DC or LA, you don't get the feeling that everyone is playing for the same team. You get the opposite feeling -- there is a LOT of infighting. Even within a team (like within a political party) you see hand-to-hand combat being practiced every day and the winners are often the ones who are best at bloodying their opponents.

Of course, the business world, like every world, is filled with many different types of people. There are many unscrupulous people. There are many bad people. Many people should, and sometimes do, go to jail. But because business (especially technology businesses) is much more non-zero, the level that these unsavory people succeed is less than in many other disciplines.

However, if companies move to a more zero-sum environment (like if the only way to become a CEO is to climb a large corporate ladder), then we might expect business to mimic many of the other areas. Luckily, at least in the technology industry, good people are for more likely to win than bad people (good still beats bad).

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