A meritocracy sounds like a great idea. After all, it supposedly lets the best people rise to the top, the ones that have the most merit. Unfortunately, it seems to rarely work that way.
ideally comes from what people have actually done, their contributions
in a specific area. But the visibility of merit comes from
self-promotion. That is, if you do a lot of work, but nobody notices,
then it is unlikely to be recognized.
such, to get a lot of merit one has to make sure their peers are aware
of their contributions. This naturally favors extroverted people, those
that like interacting with others. Introverts on the other hand, are
more likely to keep their heads down and just quietly contribute in the
time, the personality bias would work itself out. That is, the strength
of the contributions would over shadow the self-promotion. Well, except
that there are many ways to ‘game the system’. The most obvious and
most common is for extroverts to take credit for introvert’s merit.
Since the introverts are quiet, and shy away from conflict, this is
easily accomplished. Thus you get a lot of things like ‘visionaries’
that aren’t, since that is a very easy way for someone to steal credit
from the people else.
the scorecard is really based on self-promotion, another way to game
the system is to minimize the contributions, while maximizing the
promotions. That is, you do something small, trivial and hastily, then
just spin it into something big. We also see this all of the time. A
deep investigation into many people with significant merit reveals that
their claims are wildly disproportionate to what they actually did, and
how successful it really was.
course, general human decency is believed to be why people don’t
routinely game the system. However, if you look again at the personality
types, not only are they extroverts but they are also staggeringly
over-confident. And it’s this over-confidence that allows them to
maximize their self-promotion and claim credit, even when it is
detrimental to those around them. They simply justify it to themselves as deserved,
so it is no longer such a bad act.
think that underlying metrics can counter-balance this, but few
meritocracies are actually based on real facts, and even then without
concrete proof, real facts can be fabricated or spun. Thus it comes
right back to self-promotion.
it would seem that meritocracies are not generally based on
contributions, but rather on the claims of contributions, and that it
makes more sense if you want to get to the top to spend one’s effort on
making claims, rather than the actual contributions. In time, more and more people figure this out, so that any meritocracy will eventually degenerate.