Employee Ranking Systems LO17598

Richard Goodale (fc45@dial.pipex.com)
Mon, 30 Mar 98 09:40:25 GMT

Replying to LO17592 --


Thanks for the post.

I did read your reply of March 8, but, with all due respect, I didn't
think that it adequately answered my question. Others made effective
rebuttals to your example of basketball coaches (that there is, in fact, a
lot of cooperative dialogue that exists among such "rivals.") As to your
Coke/Pepsi example, I was there during the "Cola Wars" in the 1980's (on
both sides, at various times), and please believe me, there was a lot of
"cooperation," tacit and otherwise, between the two organisations, which
co-existed with the essentially competitive nature of the relationship.

Thank you for your latest anecdote, of the French researcher who believed
that "competition restricted his ability to learn and retarded the
advancement of medicine." I will defend to my death his right to say such
a thing, but I won't let that commitment to freedom of expression get in
the way of my strong belief that he was dead wrong when he said it.

What I was trying to say in my last post (LO17542) was that there is no
such thing as "pure" competition or "pure" co-operation. I have had the
privilege of experiencing a few epiphanies of effective co-operation in my
lifetime, in a number of arenas, academia, sports and business. In ALL of
those cases, however, the co-operation of the "teams" I was a part of was
focused on a highly competitive super-ordinate goal (in academia, a team
solution to some theoretical problem; in sports, the winning of a specific
competition against other teams; in business, things ranging from a
succesful sale to the creation of a new level of "awareness" amongst the
members of an organisation). And, in ALL of those cases, there was
competition, sometimes minimal, but other times extremely fierce, to
become a member of the team.

Roxanne, I believe very much in the value of cooperation, both
theoretically and experientially. However, I stick to my view that it is
not something that is done instead of competing--it is something that is
symbiotic with competition. Pure competition leads to diminishing
returns. That's why the Cola Wars ended. For some theoretical support to
this thesis, please see the rich body of work on game theory which has
developed over the past 15 years, particularly the early simulations of
the "Prisoners Dilemma" problem which led to the understanding of the
power of the simple, highly co-operative "tit-for-tat" strategy in
"winning" that particular game. Alternatively, IMHO, there is no evidence
that pure co-operation has significantly advanced learning or society,
except in the negative sense, i.e. "Don't do this!". All Utopian
communites or societies that I am aware of, from New Lanark to New
Harmony, from Plato's Republic through the Soviet Union have come apart at
the seams, or just faded away.

Nevertheless, I very much agree with you that the world we have now is NOT
"the best that we can do." I do believe, however, that improvement in our
lot has come in the past and will only come in the future through some
creative tension between co-operation and competition, NOT through some
slavish adherence to either system of belief.


Richard Goodale

> Duke and North Carolina, Coke and Pepsi, are competitors, rivals. They
> don't try to help their rivals to win the game. Of course, the same
> individual can co-operate with a team mate or co-worker while competing
> with the rival.
> Another example. Years ago I car-pooled to the University of Minnesota
> with a research physician who was on an exchange program from France. He
> told me that his opportunity to learn and work effectively at the
> University was very limited because of the competition among schools and
> countries to be the first to publish and receive the attendant fame and
> fortune for significant medical research findings. Competition restricted
> his ability to learn and certainly retarded the advancement of medicine.
> Many of the companies I consult with have guards at the door to prevent
> industrial spies from entering and information from leaking outside their
> doors to their competitors. Employees are required to sign non-compete
> agreements which also constrain the advancement of learning as well as the
> freedom of individuals. Our economy is based on the principles of
> competition and our society has evolved into a world of winners and
> losers, haves and have-nots. I'm not sure that this is the best we can
> do.
> Roxanne Abbas


Richard Goodale <fc45@dial.pipex.com>

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