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Having Too Much Talent Dooms Sports Teams

Update Date: Jun 11, 2014 06:48 PM EDT
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Having too much talent on a sports team really is a thing, according to new research.

Researchers found that adding more superstar talent to a sports team after a certain point can lead to poorer team performance.

Lead researcher Professor Roderick Swaab said that the presence of too many superstar athletes could undermine players' willingness to work together.

"Most people believe that the relationship between talent and team performance is linear - the more their team is packed with talent, the better they will do," Swaab said in a news release. "Yet our latest research documenting a 'too-much-talent effect', reveals that for teams requiring high levels of interdependence, like football and basketball, talent facilitates team performance... but only up to a point. Beyond this point, the benefits of adding more top talent will decrease and eventually hurt the team performance because they fail to coordinate their actions."

"As the FIFA World Cup 2014 draws near, we expect to see plenty of team-sheets boasting impressive lineups with top talented players," added Swaab. "However, coaches that simply select their side with superstars may, contrary to popular belief, be the ones taking an early exit from Brazil!"

"Like sports teams, teams in organizations vary in their levels of interdependence. When team success merely depends on the accumulation of individual performance (e.g. sales teams), hiring and staffing could simply focus on getting the most talented individuals on board," Swaab explained. "However, these same strategies can hurt a willingness to coordinate effectively when team success depends on high levels of interdependence (e.g. strategy teams). When interdependence between team members is high, organizations could either hire a better mix of top talent and non-top talent and/or invest more in training to formalize roles, ranks, and responsibilities."

"These are important lessons because selection decisions in organizations tend to produce a too-much-talent effect because of misguided perceptions around the link between top talent and performance," researchers concluded.

The latest findings will be published in the forthcoming issue of Psychological Science

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