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This new research is unfortunate, but not unexpected. I would welcome a variation on the study to determine the effect when bold organizational goals have been created. I believe that the driver of results in this case is not merely the number of rock stars, but the fact that in the absence of BHAGs, the environment quickly degenerates into individual interests. The collaborative generation of bold goals, and the enrollment of people throughout the organization in the achievement of those goals, is a primary leadership objective.

Mary Adams

I wonder if there is any relationship between the way the stars get compensated and these behavior patterns...?

Stephanie Cowan

This new study certainly does seem to confirm Pfeffer's point of view. I just finished reading his "Sins of Commission" article where he illustrates some of the unintended negative consequences of pay for performance strategies that pit individuals within an organization against one another. Imagine, with a different system perhaps this curivilinear trend could be changed. What are the possibilities if we found a way to get stars to work together? What's the first step....humility?
Thanks for the post, Bob.


I have to say that just intuitively I think Groysberg misses the mark when he suggests that the explanation for the fact that when star men move to another firm they tend to a lot worse in the new setting and in contrast, star women tend to sustain their performance when they go to another firm, is because women are more skilled at establishing new relationships and less likely to engage in dysfunctional internal competition in their new firms.
Rather, I think it’s because for women to get to the top they have to really know their stuff where as it is far more common amongst male executives for a certain amount of favoritism to play a role in their getting to that level. Thus when the man moves to another firm and those relationships that helped get him into his high-level position are lost, so is he.

Kate Grey

Bob, this is so heartening to hear. As a job seeker, I would like nothing more than to work on a great team again -- I've been fortunate to experience one in the past, sadly offset by equally cruddy team experiences.

Your post sparks a question: Analysts by and large are highly compensated individual experts. They're researchers, not managers. In much of corporate life, if you're identified as a "star," you get promoted, along with other "stars." So I wonder if this research could be expanded some day to look at the performance of managers collectively in an organization, and the impact of having too many "stars" (or battling VPs) on a team.

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