The effects of prestige on collective performance and information flow in a strictly hierarchical institution

Offord, M. , Gill, R. and Kendal, J. (2019) The effects of prestige on collective performance and information flow in a strictly hierarchical institution. Palgrave Communications, 5, 4. (doi: 10.1057/s41599-018-0211-8)

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Institutions such as the military aim to respond efficiently to complex logistical challenges using a strictly hierarchical structure, where leaders are assigned a rank by senior colleagues and team members are trained to obey leader commands. Anthropologists have observed that leadership status outside of these top-down hierarchical institutions is often affected by the attribution of prestige by non-leaders. Here we show that even in the strictly hierarchical institutional context of the Royal Navy, informal prestige networks play a functional role in leadership efficacy and group-level dynamics. Specifically, a team leader’s informal prestige is a far stronger predictor of team performance and rate of information transmission during training exercises at sea than their formal rank. We find that the more decentralised the prestige network the more efficient it is for disseminating information. The implications of our findings for traditional conceptions of leadership in hierarchical institutions and the effects of prestige on group-level behaviour are discussed.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Offord, Dr Matt
Authors: Offord, M., Gill, R., and Kendal, J.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Management
Journal Name:Palgrave Communications
Publisher:Palgrave Macmillan
ISSN (Online):2055-1045
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2019 The Authors
First Published:First published in Palgrave Communications 5:4
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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