Psychology Colloquium: A/Prof Stefan Volk: Last Place Aversion: Relative Status Striving of Low Status Individuals
A/Prof Stefan Volk (USYD Business School)
Most modern workplaces place high value on teamwork in advancing the goals of the organization, and much research effort has been devoted to understanding and optimizing organizational and team dynamics and behavior. A notable conflict within organizational goals is incentivizing employees to improve both individual and team performance whereas in reality it is not always possible to improve personal status without a cost to the team or organization or vice versa. Desire for personal improvement and ascending in status can be achieved by adding value through extra effort, or by cheating and can have positive or negative impacts on the individual, team and organization. While the dynamics of how individuals strive to improve their status when ranked in the middle of a team, or to retain their status when ranked at the top of a team, has been studied before, little research to date has investigated status striving in relation to individuals ranked at the bottom of a team – i.e. what people do to get out of last place. Thus, it is unclear what behavioural strategies individuals would use to improve their status relative to the team, such as putting in extra effort, or cheating. Further, it is thus far unknown whether conflict between individual and team status affects their status striving – i.e. whether individuals would be willing to put in more effort or sacrifice their teammates in order to get out of last place – and whether these behaviours can be modified.