"One of the most potent of the weapons of influence around us is the rule for reciprocation. The rule says that we should try to repay, in kind, what another person has provided us." Robert B. Cialdini, author of The Psychology of Persuasion (William Morrow, 1993)
Reciprocity flows from the law of love which is "the gift of giving" without the "hope of reward or pay," or serving others. This 'law of love' is identified in many different ways--for example, in Wayne Baker's business bestseller, "Achieving Success Through Social Capital" (Jossey-Bass), this law of love in the workplace is described as the "law of reciprocity."
The law of reciprocity is not what can best be described as "transactional reciprocity."
Baker says that, "Many people conceive of their business dealings as spot market exchanges--value given for value received, period. Nothing more, nothing less. This tit-for-tat mode of operation can produce success, but it doesn't invoke the power of reciprocity and so fails to yield extraordinary success."
Baker explains, "The lesson is that we cannot pursue the power of reciprocity. When we try to invoke reciprocity directly, we lose sight of the reason for it: helping others. Paradoxically, it is in helping others without expecting reciprocity in return that we invoke the power of reciprocity. The path to reciprocity is indirect: reciprocity ensues from the social capital built by making contributions to others.
The deliberate pursuit of reciprocity fails, just like the pursuit of happiness. Acts of contribution, big and small, build your fund of social capital, creating a vast network of reciprocity. And so those who help you may not be those you help. The help you receive may come from distant corners of your network."
In February 2011, the desk clerk at Rick Ruzzamenti’s yoga studio told him she had recently donated a kidney to an ailing friend she had bumped into at Target. Mr. Ruzzamenti, 44, had never even donated blood, but the story so captivated him that two days later he called Riverside Community Hospital to ask how he might do the same thing.
As a dawn chill broke over Chicago on Dec. 20, Mr. Terry received a plump pink kidney in a transplant at Loyola University Medical Center. He did not get it from Mr. Ruzzamenti, at least not directly, but the two men will forever share a connection: they were the first and last patients in the longest chain of kidney transplants ever constructed, linking 30 people who were willing to give up an organ with 30 who might have died without one.
What made the domino chain of 60 operations possible was the willingness of a Good Samaritan, Mr. Ruzzamenti, to give the initial kidney, expecting nothing in return. Its momentum was then fueled by a mix of selflessness and self-interest among donors who gave a kidney to a stranger after learning they could not donate to a loved one because of incompatible blood types or antibodies. Their loved ones, in turn, were offered compatible kidneys as part of the exchange.
Chain 124, as it was labeled by the nonprofit National Kidney Registry, required lockstep coordination over four months among 17 hospitals in 11 states. It was born of innovations in computer matching, surgical technique and organ shipping, as well as the determination of a Long Island businessman named Garet Hil, who was inspired by his own daughter’s illness to supercharge the notion of “paying it forward.”
The chain began with an algorithm and an altruist. Over the months it fractured time and again, suspending the fates of those down the line until Mr. Hil could repair the breach. Eventually, he succeeded in finding needle-in-a-haystack matches for patients whose antibodies would have caused them to reject organs from most donors.
Until now, few of the donors and recipients have known one another’s names. But 59 of the 60 participants consented to be identified by The New York Times and to tell the stories, each with distinct shadings, that ultimately connected them.
Despite an intensely bitter breakup, a Michigan man agreed to donate a kidney for his former girlfriend for the sake of their 2-year-old daughter. A woman from Toronto donated for her fifth cousin from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, after meeting him by chance in Italy and then staying in touch mostly by text messages.
Children donated for parents, husbands for wives, sisters for brothers. A 26-year-old student from Texas gave a kidney for a 44-year-old uncle in California whom he rarely saw. In San Francisco, a 62-year-old survivor of Stage 4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma donated for her son-in-law.
On Aug. 15, Mr. Ruzzamenti’s kidney flew east on a Continental red-eye from Los Angeles to Newark and was rushed to Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, N.J. There it was stitched into the abdomen of a 66-year-old man.
The man’s niece, a 34-year-old nurse, had wanted to give him her kidney, but her Type A blood clashed with his Type O. So in exchange for Mr. Ruzzamenti’s gift, she agreed to have her kidney shipped to the University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison for Brooke R. Kitzman’s transplant. It was Ms. Kitzman’s former boyfriend, David Madosh, who agreed to donate a kidney on her behalf despite their acrimonious split.
On and on the chain extended, with kidneys flying from coast to coast, iced down in cardboard boxes equipped with GPS devices and stowed on commercial aircraft.
Source: The New York Times, Sunday, February 19, 2012