Within the regiment there may be the keenest rivalry between the different companies. We are such social creatures that we easily identify ourselves with our block, our street, our town, our social set, our party, our firm, or our department in the firm. Like teams in any game or sport, these groups may be rendered self-conscious and thus made units for competition.
It is possible to create such units for competition in business organizations. In some instances individual employees of one firm are pitted against those of a competing firm, the contest proving stimulating to the men in both. In other instances the competition is restricted to the house, and similar departments or sections are the units.
The closer the parallel between the units and their activities, as in the Carnegie blast
furnaces and steel mills, the more interesting and effective the competition becomes.
This principle has received widest recognition and achieved greatest success in the sales department. Here individuals are on a footing of approximate equality or may be given equality by a system of handicaps based on conditions in their territories. Success has also attended the pitting of selling districts against each other. These larger competing units work against bogies of the same character as do the individual ones. The whole house may be keyed up to surpass previous records or to attain some fixed standard.
To ascertain to what extent the principle of competition was consciously employed by business firms and what methods were used to apply it in increasing the efficiency of the men, a number of successful business firms were asked the following questions:--
_How do you utilize competition in increasing efficiency among your employees?_
(1) Do you regard it as unwise to stimulate competition in any form?
(2) Do you encourage men to excel their own records of previous years?
(3) Do you encourage competition between men in the same department?
(4) Do you encourage competition between your own departments?
(5) Do you encourage competition with departments of competing establishments?
(6) In competition do you make it fair by ``handicapping'' your men?
_What reward does the winner receive, e.g_.:--
(1) Monetary reward?
(3) Public commendation?
_In answers by equally successful managers great diversity of opinion prevailed. Some men were afraid of all forms of competition_.
They believed that co
Of course, most firms try in some way to
encourage their men to excel their record of previous years. The inquiry developed, however, that a few are unwilling to employ competition even in this mild form as a means to increased efficiency. Most of the firms made conscious use of this principle and were convinced of its potency.
Competition between men in the same department was approved by a majority of the firms, and its adaptability to the selling department was especially emphasized. But some of the best houses will permit no such competition. The diversity in opinion was very pronounced in answering this question.
As to encouraging competition between departments in the same firm, no general answer is satisfactory. Organizations differ widely. In many houses such competition is not practicable; in others it certainly is not to be encouraged. In many organizations which would admit of such competition the experiment had not been tried. In others it has become a regular practice and is looked upon with favor.
In competition between members of the
same department or between departments the danger of jealousy and enmity seems to be so real that the greatest caution has to be observed in managing the contests. When such caution is exercised, the results are ordinarily reported upon favorably.