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"First prize is a Cadillac Eldorado, second prize a set of steak knives, third prize you're fired." What Alec Baldwin introduces in a famous "Glengarry Glen Ross" scene is a particularly crude form of performance ranking and what follows in the movie is a story of cheating, betrayal, and infighting as actors attempt to get ahead in the ranking.
In real life, the risks with performance rankings are not too far off. Rankings can help attract and retain top talent who thrive in competitive environments, improve the speed of group decision-making, and have been known to reduce biases in performance evaluations. But, rankings have a dark side—they often enhance competitive pressures, making them potentially problematic for the maintenance of continued cooperation. Despite these potential drawbacks, rankings are still widely used to incentivize employees, and successful companies are able to rank employees while managing to achieve high levels of cooperation.
Use - Experiment - Cassandra - Chambers - Assistant
Making use of an experiment, Cassandra Chambers, an Assistant Professor at Bocconi University's Department of Management and Technology, highlights on the one hand that performance rankings do in fact dramatically reduce levels of cooperation in groups and, on the other, that sharing reputational information (individuals' histories of pro-social contributions) almost completely offsets the disruptive effect of performance ranks.
In her experimental setting, the introduction of performance rank information reduced the odds that a participant would cooperate to 0.36 times those in the control condition who did not receive any information. However, the odds of cooperating for participants who received reputation information (i.e., how much others gave in the past) alongside rank information were 1.87 times that of participants who just received information about their rank.
Lab - Experiment - People - Students - Lecturers
In the lab experiment, 592 people (students, lecturers and staff of an American university), divided...
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"It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into"--Jonathan Swift