The Organizational Rivalry Paradox

In the so called “Western World” we have been raised in a culture of rivalry and competitiveness, this understood as confronting other people with the objective of achieving the best results.

This Rivalry or Competitive Behavior  is supposed to be a source of effectiveness, as it should extract the best from individuals, thus enthroning the best ones. This way, the best individuals survive, prevail and succeed, just as companies do in a competitive market. In this sense, individuals are seen as businesses fighting against competitors with the final goal of winning the favor of clients, which in this case would be managers and business owners.

All of it sounds in fact quite intuitive and natural, only individuals and organizations are in essence different types of entities, to which the same logic cannot be applied. In fact, an organization results from the sum of many individuals, which means that is not an individual itself. This is also quit obvious and intuitive, but still, for some reason we still think that a bunch of individuals competing against each other will produce the optimum collective results.

This explains why so many internal struggles, unbelievable irrelevant conflicts and an eternal strive for power, fill the daily agenda of executives and managers around the Globe, thus generating a phenomenal waste of human energy and, as a consequence of that, a waste of material and financial resources which could be used more constructively at the service of corporate performance and market success.

Rivalry between two workers

Now, why does this happen? Very easy: employees, professionals, executives, managers, they are all striving to succeed in their individual careers, competing with each other and in the process forgetting that the real competitor is outside their own firm, another organization providing similar products and services to the same market. By doing so, corporate performance and market success are undermined, and as a consequence of it, also the possibilities for those individuals to progress, develop their careers, or attain higher levels of income.

To wrap up: the more competitively individuals behave in an organization, the less competitive that organization becomes. Put in other words: the more rivalry, the less collaboration and the less corporate performance. Let me then call this The Organizational Rivalry Paradox.

© Daniel Siles 2016

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