Employee Ranking Systems LO17542

Richard Goodale (fc45@dial.pipex.com)
Wed, 25 Mar 98 10:24:38 GMT

Responding to LO17335

Thanks, Don, for the thoughtful comments.

In response to my statement:

> So, until either one or both of of us changes certain aspects of our
> mental model(s), we're doomed to disagree, at least on this issue. I'm
> willing to learn. Can you give me any empirical or anecdotal evidence to
> support your belief in the antithetical nature of cooperation and
> competition? I'll give you one that supports my beliefs: the
> cooperation/competition within and betweeen the Watson/Crick and
> Wilkins/Franklin teams which led to the discovery of the structure of DNA.

You replied.

"Does that example really support your beliefs? In particular:
- Was it the system of cooperation/competition that led to the discovery?
- Could the discovery have been made without that system (if, say, only one
team had been working on it)? If it could have, did the system in some
way enhance or diminish the discovery? What other, possibly unintended,
effects did the system have on the research community?

In the advocacy/inquiry going on here, we should try to be careful to
examine the assumptions and reasoning that lie behind our various opinions,
not to mention the personal preferences and prejudices we bring to it.

Here's another example of a cooperation/competition system to examine: in a
professional sports organization, there's intense competition among the
players trying increase their playing time; once on the field or court,
however, there's not an iota of room for competition between teammates, if
the team is to be competitive in the game. Another limit to the internal
competition is the dedication to the team as a whole; it's not worth doing
something to increase one's playing time if that will hurt the team's

The answer to you first question is, I don't know. Lots of forces,
historical, personal, social, political, etc. led to the discovery of the
double helix. If Crick and Watson (and Wilkins and Franklin) had never
existed, it would still have been discovered. Eventually...or maybe even

In terms of the second set of questions (re: the "system") my answer is
the same. To my knoweldge, in fact, there was no "system" operative at
the time. No-one put the teams together and said, in effect: "you will
work jointly and severably to solve the question of the structure of DNA."
Rather, to paraphrase Heller, "Somethings Happened." Lots of other people
were working on the same problem at the same time (e.g. Linus Pauling)
with as much ability and as many resources. It was very much a
competition. But, the people who solved the problem (and won the Nobel
Prize for their efforts) did so through a combination of competition and
cooperation which, as you have so elegantly put it in a later post, is the
essence of scientific creativity.

Re: your sports analogy, this is right on (apologies to those readers who
instinctively recoil at the use of sports analogies and/or 5th grade
language on this list). IMHO, people who think that cooperation without
competition is a viable social or economic model are smoking their own
exhaust just as much as those who believe that competition is the ne plus
ultra solution to all of our planetary problems.

A final note. I posited the Watson-Crick/Wilkins-Franklin example to
stimulate debate. Not a single person has replied publically or privately
to my gentle challenge to ask for "anecdotal evidence to support your
belief in the antithetical nature of cooperation and competition?" Is
this a hard question, or are there really no viable examples to support
the "absolutist-cooperativist" point of view?

Thankful for being on this list, but increasingly baffled by some of the

Richard Goodale


Richard Goodale <fc45@dial.pipex.com>

Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <rkarash@karash.com> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <http://www.learning-org.com>