When More Selection Is Worse

Published on Mar 1, 2017
· DOI :10.1287/stsc.2017.0025
Jerker Denrell19
Estimated H-index: 19
Chengwei Liu6
Estimated H-index: 6
Gaël Le Mens9
Estimated H-index: 9
We demonstrate a paradox of selection: the average level of skill among the survivors of selection may initially increase but eventually decrease. This result occurs in a simple model in which performance is not frequency dependent, there are no delayed effects, and skill is unrelated to risk-taking. The performance of an agent in any given period equals a skill component plus a noise term. We show that the average skill of survivors eventually decreases when the noise terms in consecutive periods are dependent and drawn from a distribution with a “long” tail—a sub-class of heavy-tailed distributions. This result occurs because only agents with extremely high level of performance survive many periods, and extreme performance is not diagnostic of high skill when the noise term is drawn from a long-tailed distribution.
  • References (49)
  • Citations (1)
📖 Papers frequently viewed together
8 Citations
28 Citations
10 Citations
78% of Scinapse members use related papers. After signing in, all features are FREE.
#1Ivana Cvijovic (Harvard University)H-Index: 5
#2Benjamin H. Good (Harvard University)H-Index: 12
Last. Michael M. Desai (Harvard University)H-Index: 28
view all 4 authors...
Natural environments are never truly constant, but the evolutionary implications of temporally varying selection pressures remain poorly understood. Here we investigate how the fate of a new mutation in a fluctuating environment depends on the dynamics of environmental variation and on the selective pressures in each condition. We find that even when a mutation experiences many environmental epochs before fixing or going extinct, its fate is not necessarily determined by its time-averaged select...
53 CitationsSource
#1Daniel A. Levinthal (UPenn: University of Pennsylvania)H-Index: 46
#2Alessandro Marino (Libera Università Internazionale degli Studi Sociali Guido Carli)H-Index: 2
When considering the adaptive dynamics of organizations, it is important to account for the full set of adaptive mechanisms, including not only the possibility of learning and adaptation of a given behavior but also the internal selection over some population of routines and behaviors. In developing such a conceptual framework, it is necessary to distinguish between the underlying stable roots of behavior and the possibly adaptive expression of those underlying templates. Selection occurs over e...
17 CitationsSource
#1Gaël Le Mens (UPF: Pompeu Fabra University)H-Index: 9
#2Michael T. Hannan (Stanford University)H-Index: 58
Last. László Pólos (Durham University)H-Index: 17
view all 3 authors...
This paper proposes a distance-based characterization of age-related structural inertia as an increasing constraint on the speed of change as organizations age. Our framework regards organizations as points in multidimensional metric spaces of architectures. Organizational change means movement in this space. The speed of change is the ratio of the distance between positions in a space and the time it took for the organization to make the move. We illustrate how our distance-based approach can b...
16 CitationsSource
#1Gaël Le Mens (UPF: Pompeu Fabra University)H-Index: 9
#2Michael T. Hannan (Stanford University)H-Index: 58
Last. László Pólos (Durham University)H-Index: 17
view all 3 authors...
Various patterns of age dependence in hazards of organizational failure have been documented: liabilities of newness, adolescence, and obsolescence. Prior efforts at providing a unified theory that can accommodate these patterns as special cases have not dealt properly with obsolescence. We tackle this problem by proposing a new model that builds on the most recent unification attempt while integrating the core intuition behind obsolescence: organizations have trouble adapting to drifting enviro...
18 CitationsSource
The relationship between performance and ability is a central concern in the social sciences: Are the most successful much more able than others, and are failures unskilled? Prior research has shown that noise and self-reinforcing dynamics make performance unpredictable and lead to a weak association between ability and performance. Here we show that the same mechanisms that generate unpredictability imply that extreme performances can be relatively uninformative about ability. As a result, the ...
37 CitationsSource
#1Gaël Le Mens (Barcelona Graduate School of Economics)H-Index: 9
#2Michael T. Hannan (Stanford University)H-Index: 58
Last. László Pólos (Durham University)H-Index: 17
view all 3 authors...
Empirical evidence about the relation between organizational age and failure is mixed, and theoretical explanations are conflicting. We show that a simple model of organizational evolution can explain the main patterns of age dependence and reconcile the apparently conflicting theoretical predictions. In our framework, the predicted pattern of age dependence depends crucially on the quality of organizational performance immediately after founding and its subsequent evolution, which in turn depen...
63 CitationsSource
#1Giulio Bottazzi (Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies)H-Index: 23
#2Giovanni Dosi (Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies)H-Index: 65
Last. Federico Tamagni (Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies)H-Index: 12
view all 5 authors...
Diverse theories of industry dynamics predict heterogeneity in production efficiency to be the driver of firms' growth, survival and industrial change, either through a direct link between efficiency and growth, or through an indirect effect via profitabilities, as more productive firms can enjoy higher profit margins which, under imperfect capital markets, allow them to invest and grow more. Does the empirical evidence bear such predictions? This paper explores the dynamics of selection and rea...
85 CitationsSource
#1Freda B. Lynn (UI: University of Iowa)H-Index: 9
#2Joel M. PodolnyH-Index: 25
Last. Lin TaoH-Index: 3
view all 3 authors...
Although many sociologists are strongly wedded to the idea of “social construction,” the contextual factors that influence the magnitude of construction are rarely considered. This article explores the decoupling of an actor’s status from the actor’s underlying quality and examines the factors that influence the magnitude of decoupling. The authors specifically consider the role of quality uncertainty, diffuse status characteristics, and the self‐fulfilling prophecy. To analyze the impact of eac...
75 CitationsSource
We study the distributions of citations received by a single publication within several disciplines, spanning broad areas of science. We show that the probability that an article is cited c times has large variations between different disciplines, but all distributions are rescaled on a universal curve when the relative indicator cf = c/c0 is considered, where c0 is the average number of citations per article for the discipline. In addition we show that the same universal behavior occurs when ci...
473 CitationsSource
#1Jakub Growiec (Warsaw School of Economics)H-Index: 15
#2Nicola Carmine Salerno (IMT Institute for Advanced Studies Lucca)H-Index: 32
Last. H. Eugenestanley (BU: Boston University)H-Index: 124
view all 4 authors...
The size distribution of business firms is explained using number and size of firms' constituent components. It is a lognormal distribution multiplied by a stretching factor which can lead to a Pareto upper tail. This result is confirmed empirically.
60 CitationsSource
Cited By1
#1Gavin M. Schwarz (UNSW: University of New South Wales)H-Index: 10
#2Kuo-Pin Yang (NDHU: National Dong Hwa University)H-Index: 5
Last. Yu-Jen Chiu (OIT: Oriental Institute of Technology)H-Index: 1
view all 4 authors...
Structurally inert firms suffer elevated failure risks in the face of environmental change because inertia makes it difficult to keep pace with the speed of such change. Traditionally, this ecology theory based outlook focuses on the risks of mortality, treating the make-up of an organization’s architecture as uniform and thus relatively inconsequential for understanding this hazard. Renewing recent debates on inertia and on structure, in this paper we examine the specifics of the make-up of str...