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The Impact of Competition on Performance Disparities in Organizational Systems

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  • Ira Horowitz

    (University of Florida)

Abstract

Stephen Jay Gould suggests that individual ability has an upper bound in competitive endeavors and tends to improve as a result of that competition. Consequently, over time there is a diminution in the differences in individual performance that will be observed in, and have an impact on, organizational systems. Major League Baseball offers an interesting opportunity for exploring that suggestion in depth. Based on seven performance categories, this article suggests that there has not been any long-term trend toward lessening the talent disparities in baseball. Rather, the bulk of the empirical evidence leads to the conclusion that the disparities have widened. Gould offers his thesis as an explanation for the observed long-term trend of increased competitive balance in the majors. Because the thesis fails the empirical test, the economic explanation of rational profit-maximizing owners who recognize the need to maintain fan interest through competitive games and pennant races retains its pride of place.

Suggested Citation

  • Ira Horowitz, 2000. "The Impact of Competition on Performance Disparities in Organizational Systems," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 1(2), pages 151-176, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:jospec:v:1:y:2000:i:2:p:151-176
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