If the main instinct that spurs men to action is the drive to reproduce, then perhaps competitive societies are those that strategically repress their male populations?
Without easy access to reproduction, perhaps men become like desperate drug addicts looking for the next fix. They will invent anything, build anything, explore anywhere, risk their lives in battle, risk their life savings by starting a business all so they can be recognized by society and become one of the winners.
For the formula to work, I’m supposing the carrot has to be big enough and the stick only as long as it needs to be, to keep that carrot tantalizingly out of reach.
-The rewards must be sufficient and certain (reproduction must be guaranteed in the event of success)
-The goal cannot seem too hopeless or defection seems to be the better option. There
must be well defined routes to success and there must be willingness to accept those who succeed by trying out new routes.