Monday, October 04, 2010

Random Promotions:

This year’s IgNobel award in the field of management went to a paper by Alessandro Pluchino, Andrea Rapisarda and Cesare Garofalo. The paper uses Game Theory-based simulations to show that promoting the best people is less efficient than promoting people at random. Their conclusion is a great relief to office drudges like me who always believed that promotions usually went to people who were mistakenly believed to be the best.

The paper, The Peter Principle Revisited: A Computational Study, assumes the validity of the Peter Principal, as the title suggests. The paper also recommends a promotion strategy that as efficient as random promotion: randomly promoting between the best and the worst people.

Game Theory being what it is – rather hung up on the idea of 'rational players' – I suspect that the paper's conclusions will apply particularly well in the real world, where most people who are managers are not very good, and not very rational, at what they do.

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