Publication Date

August 1996


[Excerpt] Each evening during their hunting season, the Naskapi Indians of the Labrador Peninsula determined where they would look for game on the next day's hunt by holding a caribou shoulder bone over the fire.1 Examining the smoke deposits on the caribou bone, a shaman read for the hunting party the points of orientation of tomorrow's search. In this way, the Naskapi introduced a randomizing element to confound a short term rationality in which the one best way to find game would have been to look again tomorrow where they had found game today. By following the daily divergent map of smoke on the caribou bone, they avoided locking in to early successes that, while taking them to game in the short run, would have depleted the caribou stock in that quadrant and reduced the likelihood of successful hunting in the long run. By breaking the link between future courses and past successes, the tradition of shoulder bone reading was an antidote to path dependence in the hunt.


Suggested Citation
Stark, D. (1996). Heterarchy: Asset ambiguity, organizational innovation, and the postsocialist firm (CAHRS Working Paper #96-21). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies.