Random Promotions versus Choosing Top Talent

Last month, three Italian researchers were awarded the Ig Nobel prize for demonstrating mathematically that organisations would become more efficient if they promoted people at random. The Ig Nobel Prizes honour achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think. The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honour the imaginative — and spur people’s interest in science, medicine, and technology. Alessandro Pluchino, Andrea Rapisarda and Cesare Garofalo, of the University of Catania, Sicily, calculated how a pick-at-random promotion scheme compares with other, more popular methods. The three based their work on the Peter Principle – the notion that many people are promoted, sooner or later, to positions which exceed their competence.