a new book by Boris Groysberg, an associate professor in the organisational behaviour unit at Harvard Business School, entitled Chasing Stars: The Myth of Talent and the Portability of Performance, makes an intriguing point: maybe it doesn’t matter a great deal if RBS loses these people.Etc
Wall Street and the City are wedded to the idea that success depends on the talent and flair of individual bankers, with David Buik, for instance, arguing that bankers deserve their cash because “it takes a very special combination of talents to work in the city. It’s a very special gift”. Groysberg’s analysis of more than 1,000 star analysts at 78 investment banks, and 20,000 non-star analysts at about 400 investment banks, suggests otherwise.
“Exceptional performance is far less portable than is widely believed,” he says. “We found that mobile stars [bankers who leave one company for another] experienced an immediate degradation in performance that persisted for at least five years. Thus their exceptional performance at their prior employer appears to have been more firm-specific than is generally appreciated. Financial compensation is a lever [in motivating success] but it is not the only lever and it is the most overused lever. Banks behave as if stars deserve and should appropriate all the value they generate, but stars without the companies they work for might not be stars.”
Which leads us to the other argument often made in favour of dishing out bonuses: the idea that lump sums are a great way to enhance performance. If you offer someone £100 to, say, compose an advertisement for a company, with a £150 bonus for doing a particularly good job, then he or she will do a particularly good job, right? But there is research to suggest that this is not necessarily the case.
In 2003 the Harvard academics Nancy Katz and Michael Beer asked more than 200 senior executives in more than 30 countries about their bonus intentions — only to discover that the vast majority of those executives thought that bonuses had little or no effect on how their employees or businesses performed.
Wednesday, 20 January 2010
Do bonuses work?