Rivalry at the workplace is a widespread and powerful yet largely understudied phenomenon with significant organizational implications. An international team of researchers studied the psychological underpinnings of rivalry and found that rivalry at the workplace largely depends on relationships and prior interactions between actors and results in increased unsporting behavior, use of deception, and a heightened willingness to employ unethical negotiation tactics.
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A performance goal orientation is usually beneficial for job performance because it drives people to try to outperform others. Researchers from the Netherlands now investigated how the social context at work might influence this effect. They found that for people who highly identify with their team, performance goal orientation is beneficial for team performance. Conversely, for people who do not highly identify with their colleagues, a performance goal orientation motivates more individual performance. These findings imply that a strong individual performance goal orientation is only beneficial for team performance if the members of the team identify with each other.
Dietz, B., van Knippenberg, D., Hirst, G., & Restubog, S. L. D. (2015). Outperforming whom? A multilevel study of performance-prove goal orientation, performance, and the moderating role of shared team identification. Journal of Applied Psychology, 100(6), 1811-1824.
Working as a team, under supervision, or on your own is differently related to creativity depending on the power-distance and individualism-collectivism cultural values of your society, as a recent study suggests. American students generated less ideas and elaborated their ideas less when working in a team compared to Chinese students working in a team. This finding may be attributed to the individualistic cultural norm that is prevalent in American culture. Chinese individuals, on the other hand, generated less original ideas when working under supervision. The high power-distance in Chinese society may have inhibited participants working under supervision, not wanting to risk a negative evaluation by their supervisor by generating novel ideas that deviate from the norm.
One overperformer in the right position can drive more positive outcomes than all the other team-members combined
A single overperformer in a vital position can play a more important role in driving team processes and outcomes than the other team members combined, according to a recent study from Singapore. This research points to the importance of the strategically correct placement of specific employees and their influence on overall team outcomes.