The Pine Bluff Commercial

Study: Compromise is good

Walton survey finds cooperation valued, not polarization


Political polarization is seen as the biggest barrier to collaboration today, according to a survey funded by the Walton Family Foundation of Bentonville.

“There is broad agreement on the importance of compromise for successful collaboration (88%), and Americans are much more likely to say that it is important to work together to get things done, even if it means compromising (75%), than they are to say it is more important to fight for your values even if it means not finding a solution very often (15%),” according to the survey’s key findings.

The survey was conducted by Echelon Insights, in collaboration with Benenson Strategy Group, to examine views on collaboration around issues facing the country and how philanthropic organizations could support collaboration.

The survey was fielded online from Oct. 5-11 in English and Spanish among 1,445 adults in the United States.

The survey results seemed to contradict the rhetoric from America’s major political parties.

“The vast majority of Americans see the value of listening to people with whom they disagree (85%), and believe those people can still play a role in solving problems in our society (78%),” according to the survey.

Other key findings include:

■ Expanding access to career pathways (63%) and protecting and conserving water sources (61%) are the issues on which Americans think collaboration is most likely possible, followed by improving public education (54%) and creating economic opportunity (52%).

■ Americans see philanthropy as well-positioned to bring people together. While they tend to think social media, traditional media and elected officials divide us, a majority (56%) think mission-driven foundations and philanthropies provide a way for people to connect and work together.

Eighty-five percent of Baby Boomers indicated they worry about how divided our country is becoming, compared to 81% of Gen X respondents, 80% of Millennials and 68% of Gen Z respondents.

“Fewer than 1 in 5 say they are ‘very likely’ to get involved in efforts to bridge divides and increase collaboration,” according to the survey. But 39% indicated they are at least somewhat likely

to get involved in local community initiatives that focus on bridging divides and increasing collaboration in the community.

The survey results reflected a considerable amount of optimism.

“More than 6 in 10 feel confident we can overcome challenges by working together and agree that what we have in common outweighs differences,” according to the survey.

Seventy-six percent of respondents said they could be friends with people they disagree with, but only 53% “think people with different political views from mine are generally good people who just have the wrong ideas.”