Roles and Constraints
.
A human organism exists as a component of a higher-level superorganism. Within this structure, he has two roles: work and self-maintenance. In his self-maintenance role, he performs the life functions necessary for his own well-being and survival. In his work role he comes under the control of organization units, to perform specialized actions that contribute to his superorganism's life functions.


The Two Roles of a Living System
.
Living systems that exist within the three-level architectural framework are dependent on a higher-level living system for nourishment, energy, and protection from the raw environment. Human cells exist within a human organism, where most of their actions are subordinate to the organism's life function requirements. If the human organism needs to walk, its cells must work to produce the movements. The same arrangement applies to human organisms within a superorganism.
.
From the view of a human-based superorganism, its dependent human organisms have two roles: "Work" and "Self-maintenance." From this perspective, work equates to "working for the common good," meaning that it is helping to perform a life function of a higher-level living system. Self-maintenance involves the personal preparation and replenishment necessary for human organisms to be able to do the work required by the superorganism. In this context, a subordinate living system does "work" to support the existence of its higher-level parent living system, while it performs "self-maintenance" to sustain its own existence and capabilities.
.
 A Human Living System has Two Roles: Work and Self-Maintenance.  
.
Although examples used here focus on human cells, organisms and superorganisms, the basic two-role principle applies to all eukaryotic cells within organisms and organisms within superorganisms.
.
Most human-based superorganisms exist today as a "nation," with some internal geographical divisions. Within this structure, a citizen is simultaneously subject to federal, state, county and city regulations. This hierarchy allows some tailoring of regulations to meet unique local conditions, but for simplicity all of this will be referred to simply as a "nation-state" superorganism.
.
Work
.
Most humans are born with an innate propensity to find and perform meaningful work. This means participation in their nation-state's labor market, which usually requires some kind of specialized, education and training to qualify for a job. In contrast to the nation-state superorganism view, a citizen sees his work as a means to an end for his own purposes. The wages earned from work allow the citizen to acquire the goods and resources needed to perform his own life functions. Aside from a vague understanding that the results of his work are related to some kind of market demand, he has little visibility into their connection to the life of a superorganism.
.
Within the nation-state superorganism, businesses and other organizations harness and structure the work of citizens to collectively perform superorganism life functions. Although ultimately driven by the superorganism's needs, the results of work within these organizations must benefit both the superorganism and the overall health and well-being of its working citizens, without whom the superorganism could neither function nor exist.
.
Self-Maintenance
.
In addition to work, a citizen must take care of his own individual personal needs. These include the full set of living system functions, such as ingesting and digesting food, sleeping, reproducing, etc. They also include recreating, developing skills and extending personal knowledge, which generally improve work performance.
.
Self-maintenance may or may not involve participation in organizations, such as recreational teams. Some organizations, such as schools, help citizens with self-development, and most work within organizations involves on-the-job learning and skill development.

Constraints and Specialization
.
The Contract
.
The interactions of a nation-state superorganism with its citizen organisms and their cells involve an implicit contractual relationship. The citizens agree to cooperate with each other in performing certain superorganism work, and the superorganism agrees to provide for citizens' individual needs. Although less open to examination, the same kind of contract also exists between organisms and their cells.
.
Created as part of their joint evolutionary development, this contractual relationship severely constrains the freedom of choice by subordinate living systems, and creates genetic propensities that induce cooperation within the contract's stipulations. Cells have no choice in performing the required work of their organism. Some organisms individually have freedom of choice, but collectively they must perform the work of their superorganism.
.
 Most Human Living Systems are Driven to Specialize and Perform Work 
.
Freedom vs. Controls and Constraints
.
Within a nation-state superorganism, working citizens usually have some freedom of choice in how they participate in the contract. But with this apparent freedom comes powerful control mechanisms to ensure that the overall superorganism functions are performed effectively.
.
For example, most of today's nation-state superorganisms maintain a free market for products, services and labor, with a monetary system that facilitates the exchange transactions of both organizations and citizens. The product/service market is a competitive environment that rewards business organizations according to how effectively they perform in meeting the needs of the superorganism's living system functions. Correspondingly, the labor market is a competitive environment through which businesses reward citizens according to how effectively they perform their jobs.
.
Specialization of Work
.
As part of a developing organism, DNA tells its cells when, where and how to specialize. As part of a superorganism, human organisms interpret market conditions and choose their specializations and jobs according to opportunities presented there. This "voluntary" freedom of choice is governed quite harshly: no job = no work = no food. As part of a superorganism, human organisms are allowed to change specializations and jobs, but only if such work is needed and they can perform the job effectively.
.
Organizations Harness Citizen Work
.
Organizations are the physical embodiment of the superorganism's functional governance mechanism. They provide constraining frameworks within which citizens are harnessed to collectively perform the physical work that accomplishes their superorganism's functions. These frameworks include employment contracts, physical work-structures, job descriptions and work assignments. The accompanying work-for-pay arrangement is moderated by the national economy and labor market that reflect the current condition of the nation-state superorganism's functional needs and requirements.


Given that organizations harness component living systems to do the work of their higher-level living system, where does governance come into play and how does it exercise control of that work? Governance Structure describes how governance control works, and how it connects to organization units.


©1995-2012 Ackley Associates    Last revised: 7/16/11>
.