I came across a cool book entitled The Power of Nice by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval which argues that it pays to be nice. The authors are executives of Kaplan Thaler Group, a billion dollar advertising agency built on the foundation of kindness.
Authors like Al Ries and Jack Trout have compared marketing to war, where the goal is to kill the competition. This book suggests that you should instead try to help or work together with your competition.
Whether it's working together with a fierce rival, building social capital by being nice to people you work with, giving back to the community, or giving customers more than you have to, taking the high road is like good ethics. It pays in the long run.
My only critique of the book is that it could have provided more evidence to support the "power of nice" thesis. There may not be that much evidence out there. The return on investment of niceness should definitely be studied more extensively.
Perhaps data will reveal truth to the old adage "it's better to give than to receive".