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February 2008
March 2008

2008-02-24 »

A quick note on desperation

In reply to my A quick note on integrity posting, my dad replied and sent me An Interview with a Behavioural Economist. Here's just one of the interesting things in the article:

    A: [...] This is what's driving the incredible salaries of CEOs: let's just offer these people a ton of money based on their performance and stock performance, and they will really be driven to do well. But does being driven to do well actually help you do your best? We came up with a couple of tasks that demanded creativity, thought, concentration and memory and so on, took them to India, and got people to do them and paid them based on their performance. Some people we paid a small amount: if you do this well, you get an hourly wage, if you do it very well, you get two hours' wages. Some people we paid a month's wages; some people we paid six months' wages. What we found was that when more money was at stake, people really tried harder, but actually performed worse. ... A: Or think about the even worse version: in the experiment, we gave some of the people the money upfront, then said, "If you don't do well, you'll have to give it back." Q: Were they even less creative then? A: Oh my goodness, they hated it! Two people ran off with the money. We had to stop doing it.

(Read the whole article in Macleans)

When people are desperate to succeed, they can do some terrible things that are actually counterproductive in the long term. You might know some people like that yourself. I certainly do.

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