The Tiger Woods Effect

An interesting article in Slate discusses some research showing that the best players in golf play a little bit worse when Tiger Woods is in a tournament. The theory behind this is that if someone is so good that you think you have little chance of winning, you may not play as hard, or with as much focus. The purported link to the business world is counterintuitive.

If you're running a business, and you have the opportunity to hire the Tiger Woods of office work, you're not going to pass up the chance. But Brown's study suggests you might want to consider its effect on your other workers' performance. Steak knives might not cut it as second prize.

My initial thought is that you shouldn't hire a bunch of wimps who can't deal with it if someone is better than them.

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  • william bingham

    I would think there is a big difference between Golf and business. Golf isn’t a team sport for one. Tell me that getting a Michael Jordan on your team for instance wouldn’t boost morale?

  • Paul

    I don’t think we’re talking apples and apples in this case. In business you want to hire as many Tigers as you can. As mentioned above, for one thing business is not one on one. Inter-business rivalry and competition is not as well defined and, therefore, victors not as clear cut as they are in a sport like golf. Maybe I’m just projecting myself onto this, but playing Tiger Woods would make me work harder, not slack off.